John Bowles is a respected tv presenter, theatre and concert performer.

REVIEW: The Old Vic – Sweet Bird of Youth

Kim Cattrall stars in the Tennesse Williams classic at The Old Vic.

This is only the second major production of this Tennessee Williams play here in London; the first one being in 1986 starring Lauren Bacall and Michael Beck.

It is a complex play that centres on the character Chance Wayne (Seth Numric), a gigolo returning to his hometown, accompanying a fading movie star Alexandra Del Lago (Kim Cattrall), whom he hopes will facilitate his break into movies.  They find themselves in St Cloud in search of his fading youth… and his first love Heavenly (Louise Dylan).  He is once again run out of town by Heavanly’s politician father Boss Finlay (Owen Roe) just as he had many years before.

Kim Cattrall and Seth Numrich in Sweet Bird of Youth on stage in London's West End.<br /><br />

Watch the trailer here:

Celebrated director Marianne Elliott has brought a moody and eerie production to the stage of the Old Vic with a set design by Rae Smith that literally fills every inch of the proscenium; plantation shutters, billowing drapes and shafts of light dominate the stage.  Kim Cattrall is wonderful, she is comfortable in her unease, fluidly jumping between angel and demon, with a vocal dexterity that is impressive.  Seth Numric, who barely leaves the stage during the three-hour marathon, is perfectly cast as Chance. He has big shoes to fill as the role was originally played by Paul Newman and as he stalks the set half naked in the long opening scene, his physical beauty and conceit is on full volume.  He quickly establishes the means by which Chance has had to make it in life.  It is only later on that we see his vulnerability and desperate need for fame in a touching scene where his character pleads with Ms Del Lago to give him a movie contract, so that he can take it in to town and brag about it while driving in her convertible.  The secret to this play lies in the relationship between the two leads and I believed their every interaction and enjoyed watching it very much.

There were a few shaky moments that lost me later in the play when the action didn’t flow but this is a complicated play involving physical violence, drug taking, drinking, political speeches and various settings.  It’s an epic play told in classic Tennessee Williams style and there were many touches of brilliance.  Special mention must go to Brid Brennan as Aunt Nonnie who exemplified the fine supporting cast.

I have never seen anything at the Old Vic before having only stood on its stage during a backstage tour last year.  It is a big theatre and it gleams like new.  Kevin Spacey must be proud of the re-birth that he and his team have brought about.  This 194 year old masterpiece is alive and doing well.

Before the play we had a drink across the road at a very popular watering hole called The Fire Station.  In the 32 degree summer heat it was a delight to stand on the street, looking across at the beautiful Old Vic facade, sipping a pint, and watching the passing parade.

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