Sunday, 28 December 2014

'City of Angels' at The Donmar Warehouse

We went to see the new production of 'City of Angels' at the Donmar Warehouse on Monday. I've seen a student production of this musical before at the Guildhall a few years ago (one of the graduation shows by the final year students) but other than it being about a private detective in Los Angeles in the 1950s I couldn't recall anything about it so I was seeing the show with fresh eyes.

There's a story within a story going on here, the tale of an American novelist transported to Hollywood to write his first  screenplay to one of his novels about a small-time private detective and the case he's asked to take on. The writer is having marital problems and his wife thinks scriptwriting is beneath him,  and his script keeps getting re-written by the film producer he's working for. The private detective faces problems with lack of work and being in debt until he's offered the case of a missing girl and a fee he can't turn down. And then the complications begin.

The action jumps back and forth between the two stories and the two leading men. Different characters are reflected in the two stories, such as the writer starting an affair with the secretary of the producer who also plays the secretary to the private detective in the sub-plot. Similarly, the producers wife plays the murderer in the sub-plot. As the story progresses the barriers between the 'real' world and the film story start coming down and the stories merge so that, in the final scene, the private detective takes over the typewriter from the novelist.

It's a fun production with lots of action, singing and dancing, twists and turns aplenty and great use of the set and stage. Peter Polycarpou (who I last saw in 'Guys & Dolls' at Chichester) played the producer, Tam Mutu as the detective and Hadley Fraser is the energetic writer, but much kudos goes to Rebecca Trehearn who plays the secretary in both scenarios. She has a nice, easy acting style and a lively rich, warm voice. Along with the vocal stylings of the Angel City Four, there were some nice sounds coming from the stage.

It's a fun musical, a solid production and hits all the right buttons. You could do a lot worse than grabbing a ticket to see it!

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