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Theatre Review: Guys and Dolls

23 July 17 words: Matthew Smith

Place your bets, please...

Guys and Dolls

As the saying goes: Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus. Or Jupiter, or Earth, or something to that effect. After leaving The Lace Market Theatre on Saturday it came to my mind how fortunate we are to live in a society where gender equality is so widely recognised and fought for, we truly have come a long way to get to get this far. Which is why being transported back in time to watch the classic American 50s musical Guys and Dolls was so thoroughly interesting. Despite the age of the musical, there are plenty of parallels one can draw to today’s culture, making its content just as relevant today. And The Lace Market’s take on this romantic comedy is well worth checking out as plenty of fun was had along the way.

Nathan Detroit runs his illegal Crap Games against fiancée Adelaide’s wishes, partly to secretly raise money for their long overdue wedding, partly because he can’t say no to the offer of a bet. Sky Masterson is infamous for his massive successes in gambling, and when Nathan hears he’s in town takes the opportunity to wager Sky that he can’t take Sarah Brown, a religious missionary, out on a date to Havana. But things quickly get out of hand when love unexpectedly gets in the way. Integrity is called on a dice roll and one must decide for good, which of love and money is most important? Will these seemingly incompatible couples find the balance between change and perseverance in the name of love?

The Lace Market cast is a big one, consisting of twenty-six performers who warmly fill the room. The space is used well by having the actors enter from behind the audience; however, there is the occasional moment when the space feels a little cluttered while the odd performance is continued off the stage. The occasional cluttered looking ‘crowd scenes’ are, I say with glee, transformed when the cast perform their big numbers together, because as a unit they are absolutely exquisite. A stage carrying that many people fills up very easily, yet the choreography is so slick; everybody stepping and jumping and dancing with and around one another really is a sight to behold. From stage fillers to happy-go-lucky trios - it’s wonderful. The frivolous costumes bring the performers together nicely-nicely.

The choirs creates harmonies that could lift the spirits of anyone, as well as some real stand out performances. Jackie Dunn’s (Adelaide) complex and convincing accent was a joy to listen to both spoken and sung; and Lucy Theobald’s (Sarah) solo songs were truly beautiful, as she too has a unique and powerful voice. The duets between Theobald and Paul Johnson (Sky) were interesting because their voices are so noticeably different but, with the theme of opposites attracting, that made them sound so much more endearing.

With its solid cast and shining performances, this fun and feel-good display of talent really brightened an otherwise soggy Saturday evening. 

Guys and Dolls is at Lace Market theatre until Saturday 29 July 2017.

Lace Market theatre website

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