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.

Sign up for our news alerts today!

Our editors' picks for the day's top news delivered to your inbox or phone.

Sign up for email alerts Sign up for mobile alerts
1
2 3 4 5 6
7

Latest Stories from SNAP.PA

And, quite frankly, we’re not sure what to think.

Read more

Take our quiz that covers everything from parenting, to weight loss, to (inevitably) Perez Hilton.

Read more

On its fifth birthday, we look at how Apple’s tablet that nobody wanted changed how we work, rest and play.

Read more

Promoted content

Valentine's Day Afternoon Tea

London Hilton on Park Lane is inviting couples to celebrate this Valentines Day over a deliciously romantic afternoon tea at Podium Restaurant and Bar. Taking inspiration from the highly popular Confessions of a Chocoholic Afternoon Tea, London Hilton on Park Lane presents the ultimate romantic afternoon out with its Valentine’s Day Afternoon Tea.

Established in 1987, Tucci is one of the North's premier stores for branded clothing, footwear and accessories.

Save up to 70% on designer brands for Men and Women, including G-Star, Diesel, French Connection, Firetrap and many more….our sale is now on.

Valentine's Day in London

If you’re struggling over what to buy for the special person in your life in your life, our Valentine’s Day in London section is here to help.

Top Stories

Quizzes

[Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images]

It’s time to test your knowledge on the two London institutions: the Underground, and the boozer.

Read more
Adrian Chiles is no longer ITV's main man... so why not test your knowledge of some of his (and others') greatest gaffes? (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

With news of presenter Adrian Chiles’ sacking by ITV, it’s a good time to remember some of the most memorable punditry blunders.

Read more
[Image by Gary Tallowin]

In which we remember the stations that have gone before...

Read more