- Dress Circle Reviews
The Man in the White Suit - Review
Based on the 1951 Ealing studios comedy, The Man in the White Suit is a silly yet satirical comedy about one man’s fight against the establishment, the manufacturers and, unwittingly, the workers.
When Sidney Stratton tries to find the formula for a fabric that never gets dirty and never wears out he upsets his employers because of his demands for expensive materials. When he finally makes the material his employers are overjoyed until they realize that once people have the only suit they’ll ever need to buy they won’t have any customers and the factory workers are upset when the realize this would impact their jobs. The chase is then on to stop people learning about this new fabric.
In terms of plot it’s a good story although the script is very clunky in places, particularly early on, and it struggles to flow properly at the start. There are some great jokes that “inadvertently” reference today’s climate though it avoids tackling some of the harder topics of today’s consumer environment and sticks faithfully to the source material.
The shows comedy relies on physical slapstick humour which while it’s good in parts it’s not as well choreographed as some other modern productions such “The Play That Goes Wrong” which had perfect pitch on the slapstick comedy. However, the play has some good comedy and there are some great kitsch parts, an early highlight of this being a car ride scene playing on the low budget and obvious green screens of 1950’s films.
This scene is a good example of how well thought out Michael Taylor’s set design of the whole production is. The set is used heavily in the comedy and sticks faithfully to the 1950’s film design making it easy to miss how innovative the design behind it is. The different ways the mansion are used in the second act demonstrate how much you can fit in a relatively small space.
Despite a difficult script there is some great acting in the show. Stephen Mangan is a loveable slightly naïve Sidney and Kara Tointon is delightful as Daphne, the mill owners daughter, bringing the right mix of nonchalance, control and intelligence to the character.
The villains of the piece are more scantily drawn as was par the course for stories from that period but they were also slightly loveable and Richard Cordery as the mill owner perfectly encapsulates these qualities.
Sue Johnston as Mrs Watson (the local laundry lady) and Rina Fantania as Brenda, a factory worker, are both great character actors who were a delight to watch and we have to mention Matthew Durkan as Jimmy who takes full advantage of the musical interludes he is given which are great in keeping the mood of the show buoyant.
It’s an enjoyable show with plenty of funny moments but which doesn’t match the excellence Sean Foley managed with The Ladykillers. It’s a fun a night with a great cast and we left with smiles on out faces. We give this three Laura Michelle-Kelly stars.
Currently running until January 2020, tickets can be purchased here: https://tickets.delfontmackintosh.co.uk/index.asp?ShoID=2829