THEATRE / Making It Better - Criterion Theatre, W1

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The Independent Culture
As prettily pink as a madam's boudoir, the refurbishment of the Criterion in such dark days as these is cause for celebration. Engaging as James Saunders' play is however, it felt a little low key for what should have been a fanfare opening: it boils down to a witty, urbane bedroom farce and occasionally boils up to a passionate exploration of personal betrayal.

When the going gets tough Diana's bumbling husband, Adrian, 'comes out' and the toughish Diana (Jane Asher) goes shopping - for a man. She finds a Czech mate in Josef (David de Keyser), an old- style intellectual in need of a home. Meanwhile Adrian (Larry Lamb) takes up with a new-style, opportunistic and, er, bouncing Czech, the drop-dead dishy student Tomas (Rufus Sewell). Partly to wreak vengeance, partly because she can't resist him, Diana seduces her husband's lover.

The backdrop of the 1989 velvet revolution enables Saunders to juxtapose notions of freedom but the true focus of the play is the personal rather than the political. Despite an implausible plot and a pat ending, Michael Rudman's production is well worth seeing for the red hot, perfectly judged performances from a superb cast.

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