Daily Mail

Oh, what a thrilling hoedown!


Oklahoma! (Wyndham’s Theatre, London)

SHAMELESS Ado Annie isn’t the only one who ‘Cain’t Say No’ in Daniel Fish’s remarkable rethink of Oklahoma!, in which the frills, hoedown hokiness and lush orchestrat­ion expected in a revival of the Rodgers & Hammerstei­n classic are stripped away.

Actors in denim and checks sit waiting for their cues in what looks like a local community hall. Instead of the bright golden haze on the meadow of Oh, What A Beautiful Mornin’, the house lights are blazing — all the better to expose the simmering hearts and haunted souls of these lusty farming folk. The trigger- happy atmosphere is deftly suggested by racks of rifles along the walls. A bluegrass band of seven is tuning up in front. And every note of this piece is sounded afresh.

The result is thrilling, dark, dangerous and very, very sexy. An outrage according to some, but more than OK by me.

On swanks Arthur Darvill’s cowboy Curly, bringing an edge of sleaze to The Surrey With A Fringe On Top — his flirty invitation to the dance to the town’s heartthrob, Laurey. Anoushka Lucas’s Laurey is no pushover, however. When she says she wants ‘things to happen’, she may be thinking of another suitor, Jud Fry (Patrick Vaill, menacing but also sad).

Some scenes are played out in total darkness — all the better to hear the shame and fear. Others burst with sunshine and fun, such as whenever Georgina Onuorah’s Ado Annie flutters her lashes at Stavros Demetraki’s slippery pedlar. Stunning.

 ?? ?? Thrill: Lucas and Darvill
Thrill: Lucas and Darvill

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