THE BLACK AND WHITE BALL

The Jewish Chronicle - - ARTS&BOOKS -

The King’s Head, Lon­don N1

HAV­ING, FOR the first time, an­nounced a full sea­son of new work, there is a wel­come burst of en­ergy at the much-loved King’s Head. Kick­ing off with a new mu­si­cal by Cole Porter sounds like a win­ner. But, of course, it is not Porter’s songs that are new here but Warner Brown’s book.

Told in flash­back, Brown’s hero­ine is au­thor Leah (Kaisa Ham­mar­lund) who re­turns to a con­demned New York ho­tel to jog her child­hood me­mory about a glam­orous night in the city back in the 1940s. Who was it who shot dead Johnny (Chris El­lis-Stan­ton), the hick from Mon­tana who be­came her step­fa­ther and a best­selling writer? Was it her jeal­ous mother, Johnny’s pub­lisher? Or could it have been Ron, aka Lot­tie, the drag artist with whom Johnny co-wrote his keenly waited book?

But the real mys­tery is why this well per­formed mu­si­cal — ably di­rected by Matthew White — takes it­self so ut­terly se­ri­ously. It has all the in­gre­di­ents of par­ody, but none of the hu­mour, or the at­ti­tude. Brown’s story lacks the wit to hold Porter’s songs. ( Tel: 0844 412 2953)

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