Sunday, July 14

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels – The Zodiac, Frodsham Community Central

If we ever needed a reminder of just how much the world of theatre was tipped on it’s head by Covid, then the fact that it’s taken three years for Zodiac’s production of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels to reach the milestone of opening night will do just that.

Retaining many of the original cast, it’s clear from the opening number, Give Them What They Want, that the cast, under the direction of Neil Silcock, are thrilled to finally immerse the audience into the French Riviera, where we meet the debonair Lawrence (Seb Farrell), a sophisticated swindler who charms and disarms several of the female holidaymakers each year, aided by his ‘bodyguard’ (and the town’s Chief of Police), Andre (Phil Murray).

He soon takes the vulgar, young upstart Freddy Benson (Chris Doyle) under his wing to teach him the tricks of the trade, until the arrival of a glamorous heiress Christine Colgate (Kat Hewish) positions them as rivals, competing for both her affections and a healthy chunk of her fortune.

Our four principals work very well together, with great chemistry and comic timing. Seb Farrell is totally convincing as the suave Lawrence, imbuing his performance with an effortless air of landing a well-practiced con.

Chris Doyle marries superb vocals and great physicality to bring Freddy to life, resulting in some of the biggest laugh out loud moments between the two, as Lawrence exploits Freddy’s coarser qualities within his schemes.  

Similarly, Kat Hewish uses her versatility to bring out Christine’s warmth and charm, as well as her more surprising characteristics that emerge as our conniving duo wrestle with genuine feelings for their mark.

Phil Murray has some fantastic zingers in his dialogue and works nicely with Beverly Ann Ross as Muriel, a rich tourist who brings out the acerbic officer’s softer side.

Finally special mention must go to Gabrielle Stanfield as Jolene, an American, Redneck heiress who seems impossible to shake. Her vocal number, Oklahoma, and the subsequent attempts of Lawrence and Freddy to drive her away are standout moments of the show.

The principals are well supported by a strong ensemble, with excellent, well-drilled choreography from Jess Martin and Jennifer Deakin. An excellent band is under the reliable baton of Musical Director Craig Price.

There is a simple but effective set that creates a real sense of place for the most part (although an abbey and an airport scene are slightly less convincing, despite the hilarious cameo of a model airplane) and clever touches with props that add to the comedy in the right places. The cast work well round it all, although look a little crowded in during some of the bigger numbers.

There are also a few technical hiccups – a few spotlights are late to land on their subject; the sound is frustratingly patchy in places, with occasions where ensemble can’t be heard. But these are things that will likely smooth themselves out as the show run progresses.

Overall, there’s no swindle here – Zodiac haven’t missed a trick in delivering a solid, comic show that will have you rooting for the ‘bad’ guys.

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels in on till Saturday 25th March at Frodsham Community Centre. For tickets visit Dirty Rotten Scoundrels –   

Reviewer: Anna Durham

Reviewed: 22nd March 2022

North West End UK Rating: ★★★★