Theatre review: Sweet Smell of Success at the Arcola Theatre

11:14 22 November 2012

Adrian der Gregorian as Sidney Falcone in the Sweet Smell of Success at the Arcola Theatre. Photo by Simon Annand

Adrian der Gregorian as Sidney Falcone in the Sweet Smell of Success at the Arcola Theatre. Photo by Simon Annand

Archant

Don’t be surprised to see this absorbing musical take the West End by storm one day, writes Tim Wyatt

The Sweet Smell of Success is a fast-paced and intense tale of the corrupting effect of power, staged against the glamour of high society in 1950s New York.

JJ Hunsecker is a newspaper columnist with the power to make and break the reputations of the New York elite and has the whole of America eating out of his hand. He takes Sidney Falcone, a failing press agent, under his wing on the condition he keeps an eye on his sister Susan, who is enamoured with a little-known piano player called Dallas. We follow Sidney as he is drawn in by JJ’s power and success and used as the vengeful columnist’s tool to destroy people who cross him and keep New York dancing to his tune.

David Bamber delivers a throatily red-blooded portrayal of the scheming JJ, but it is the music that really takes the Arcola Theatre’s production to the next level. Driven forward by an exciting jazz score performed by a tight seven-piece band, the musical numbers are superb and are capped by some exceptional vocal performances, notably Stuart Matthew Price as Dallas. The brash and bold choreography grabs the attention and instantly transports the audience to the glitz of 1950s New York.

The show maintains its grip on the audience despite the twists and turns of the plot to the very end. Performed in a sparse set and with a small cast, director Mehmet Ergen’s production nonetheless convinces and enthralls. Don’t be surprised to see this Broadway hit - the American production was nominated for seven Tony Awards - take the West End by storm one day. High quality musical performances and a story full of absorbing drama make Sweet Smell of Success a recipe for excellent theatre.

* Sweet Smell of Success is at the Arcola Theatre, Ashwin Street, E8, until December 22.

Latest Stories from SNAP.PA

As a contestant on Strictly Come Dancing trying your best to scrape through to next week, that is NOT what you want to hear.

Read more

Provided of course, you exercise some careful creativity.

Read more

Promotions

AGA Living Subscription

Every issue of AGA Living magazine is packed full of celebrity AGA owner interviews, interior and design features, ideas to inspire your culinary imagination, mouth-watering recipes and inspirational shopping ideas.

Dojo gives you hand picked recommendations for events, places and activities in London

Tired of always hearing about some amazing event in London after its gone, missing out on the best activities? That’s where Dojo comes in.

Top Stories

Quizzes

Arsene Wenger and Jose Mourinho go head to head (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

Football managers are either deified or chastised, depending on results and they are some of the most famous faces in the country.

Read more
London is a scary place

This great city of ours is one of the most haunted places on the planet.

Read more
Roy Keane  (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)

Roy Keane denied the world of more glorious beard action this weekend by shaving his famous chin hair off, however football is still littered with some impressive beards.

Read more