★★★☆☆ European Arts Company, Jermyn Street Theatre
This dark comedy about the celebrity Beau Brummell is entertaining but too long.
Beau Brummell; the first person who was famous for being famous. Nowadays, there are many alike him, The Kardashian clan being one of them. In the 18th century he was the modern narcissist, watching himself in the mirror all day long and letting people stare at him while he was getting dressed.
After a public incident with his friend the Prince of Wales, he’s forced to live in exile in Calais. Now poor, due to his lifelong addiction to gambling and driven into madness by Syphilis, Beau lives in a small flat in a covent with his valet. When the Prince of Wales, now King, comes to visit, Brummell hopes to be reinstated and be able to go back to his old life.
On the surface, this play is well done. The set design is beautiful and intriguing, the acting is superb and leaves no reason for criticism. It’s funny and the dialogue is written well and witty with a lot of opportunities to make the audience chuckle. The story and the length of the the show is what lets the production down. It’s not clear what we’re meant to take away from the story.
The production would’ve worked better in a shorter more compact version, as a lot of the conversations didn’t lead anywhere or uncover something essential. After a while it just felt stale.
Overall, it had its highlights through jokes and funny anecdotes, or the way that putting on his clothes was almost a sacred act.