Park Avenue, Lilian Baylis Theatre, London

2.00

It's titled Park Avenue, but Arthur Schwartz and Ira Gershwin's musical is set on Long Island – just one of its many oddities. Written in 1946, this account of marital musical chairs among the wealthy is redolent of the Twenties, in its blithe, brittle acceptance of divorce as a delightful fact of life.

Meeting his fiancée's family, the nice, middle-class Ned Scott is alarmed to find that, as well as a father, she has three stepfathers, all on the best of terms, and another in the wings. His future mother-in-law, Sybil, has become bored with her latest husband, but he is not too upset; he has already picked out his next mate, the wife of one of Sybil's former spouses.

Ostensibly a satire, Park Avenue is that common substitute for one, a mixture of the silly and the distasteful. A woman who drools over her son-in-law, a father who mislays his children and nearly lays his daughter – if this could be made palatable, there'd have to be more wit than that supplied by writers Nunnally Johnson and George S Kaufman. The plot and characters are thin and the lame songs add neither force nor emotion to what seems like a protracted skit.

If the show disappoints, however, the cast of 14 are 14-carat, with an abundance of charm, vim, and musical-comedy technique. Stephen Carlile is an endearing hero, James Vaughan highly comic in his outbursts of lechery and his mortal terror of the outdoors. Peter Gayle turns in a delightful cameo as the family lawyer.

Opera singer John Rawnsley's combination of geniality and gravitas adds a welcome gloss to his characterisation of the discarded millionaire. Best of all is Elizabeth Counsell as Sybil, a glamorous, febrile wraith whose philosophy is to give "romance no chance to decompose" but to part "while the dew [is] on the rose".

The reference to decay, however, and rhymes like "cirrhosis-psychosis" suggest the joylessness of this enterprise.

'Park Avenue', Sundays to 27 April (0870 737 7737)

Arts and Entertainment
Rebecca Ferguson, Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible Rogue Nation

Film review Tom Cruise, 50, is still like a puppy in this relentless action soap opera

Arts and Entertainment
Rachel McAdams in True Detective season 2

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Off the wall: the cast of ‘Life in Squares’

TV
Arts and Entertainment

Books And it is whizzpopping!

Arts and Entertainment
Bono throws water at the crowd while the Edge watches as they perform in the band's first concert of their new world tour in Vancouver

MusicThey're running their own restaurants

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... for the fourth time

    Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... for the fourth time

    I was once told that intelligence services declare their enemies dead to provoke them into popping up their heads and revealing their location, says Robert Fisk
    Donovan interview: The singer is releasing a greatest hits album to mark his 50th year in folk

    Donovan marks his 50th year in folk

    The singer tells Nick Duerden about receiving death threats, why the world is 'mentally ill', and how he can write a song about anything, from ecology to crumpets
    Oculus Rift and the lonely cartoon hedgehog who could become the first ever virtual reality movie star

    The cartoon hedgehog leading the way into a whole new reality

    Virtual reality is the 'next chapter' of entertainment. Tim Walker gives it a try
    10 best waterproof mascaras

    Whatever the weather: 10 best waterproof mascaras

    We found lash-enhancing beauties that won’t budge no matter what you throw at them
    Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

    Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

    Turkish President Erdogan could benefit politically from the targeting of the PKK, says Patrick Cockburn
    Yvette Cooper: Our choice is years of Tory rule under Jeremy Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

    Our choice is years of Tory rule under Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

    Yvette Cooper urged Labour members to 'get serious' about the next general election rather than become 'a protest movement'
    Singapore's domestic workers routinely exploited and often abused in the service of rich nationals

    Singapore's hidden secret of domestic worker abuse

    David Cameron was shown the country's shiniest veneer on his tour. What he didn't see was the army of foreign women who are routinely exploited and often abused in the service of rich nationals
    Showdown by Shirley Jackson: A previously unpublished short story from the queen of American Gothic

    Showdown, by Shirley Jackson

    A previously unpublished short story from the queen of American Gothic
    10 best DSLRs

    Be sharp! 10 best DSLRs

    Up your photography game with a versatile, powerful machine
    Solved after 200 years: the mysterious deaths of 3,000 soldiers from Napoleon's army

    Solved after 200 years

    The mysterious deaths of 3,000 soldiers from Napoleon's army
    Every regional power has betrayed the Kurds so Turkish bombing is no surprise

    Robert Fisk on the Turkey conflict

    Every regional power has betrayed the Kurds so Turkish bombing is no surprise
    Investigation into wreck of unidentified submarine found off the coast of Sweden

    Sunken sub

    Investigation underway into wreck of an unidentified submarine found off the coast of Sweden
    Instagram and Facebook have 'totally changed' the way people buy clothes

    Age of the selfie

    Instagram and Facebook have 'totally changed' the way people buy clothes
    Not so square: How BBC's Bloomsbury saga is sexing up the period drama

    Not so square

    How Virginia Woolf saga is sexing up the BBC period drama
    Rio Olympics 2016: The seven teenagers still carrying a torch for our Games hopes

    Still carrying the torch

    The seven teenagers given our Olympic hopes