Sweet Bird of Youth

  • Theatre
  • West End
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© Manuel Harlan

Seth Numrich and Kim Cattrall

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In the Old Vic’s game revival of this middling Tennessee Williams melodrama, Kim Cattrall is Alexandra Del Lago, a faded screen starlet who has fled the premiere of her comeback movie, horrified at the sight of her aged face.

Setting up the play’s most ludicrous twist, she had completely isolated herself from the world, travelling America incognito on a booze and drugs-addled binge after falling in with a handsome chancer called, er, Chance. As the play opens, the two of them are shacked up in an opulent hotel in St Cloud, Florida; what Chance hasn’t mentioned is that this is his hometown, where he has a spectacular amount of unfinished business.

On the face of it, American actor Seth Numrich is an odd choice of Chance – he’s younger and prettier than the slightly fading 29-year-old he's made out to be. But he puts in such a belter of a turn that it doesn’t really matter. With eyes that flit painfully between cocky and defeated, Numrich offers an exceptionally human and committed portrait of a man caught between a painfully pure memory of who he once was and the grimmer reality of who he has become.

It’s a great performance and Chance is the play’s one great character. His chemistry with Cattrall is odd, however – in her first scene she couldn’t be any more preposterous, a barely functional, sub-‘Ab Fab’ wreck; sparks do not fly, to the point that her eventual demands for sex feel like a naff contrivance. And her queenly resurrection at the end is equally hard to believe. Cattrall gives it a good shot, but if feels like she’s putting too much faith in Williams’s broad writing, when she could have found a more nuanced way around it.

Her scenes bookend the play – in between Chance gets embroiled in some murky local politics, as he ineptly tries to wrestle his childhood sweetheart Heavenly (Louise Dylan) back from her monstrous father. It’s all pretty bombastic, but entertainingly so, and it’s to director Marianne Elliott’s credit that she embraces this thoroughly, with a thrillingly OTT setpiece scene in a raging thunderstorm. All very watchable, but aside from Numrich’s soulful turn the play lacks a centre.

By Andrzej Lukowski

 

Event phone: 0844 871 7628
Event website: http://www.oldvictheatre.com

Average User Rating

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Rating Breakdown

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LiveReviews|8
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Gus Crespo

I thought Kim Catrall's performance was excellent. Her mood swings, paranoid and fearful mind set were all very credible from a drug and alcohol abuser! She is definitely the highlight of this play. I thought this is not one of Tenesse Williams' best play, this production was long and some parts were disjunct, specially after the interval. Overall, a good night out, but "Cats on a hot tin roof" would still be my favourite TW's play

Isabella Stettler

I think Kim Catrall's performance was way over the top. Her histrionics and fluctuations in mood were not believable and tended to grate on one's nerves. Seth Numrich, on the other hand, nailed the character of Chance. He was more nuanced and believable. The other characters were on the whole well played. But Numrich ruled the day. The set was also well done but the music like Miss Catrall's performance was too in your face and disconcerting at times.

Carla

Kim Catrall is very good, quite dramatic, but very convincing in this role. The guy playing Chance is playing his part quite impressing, but there is abviously a lack of experience when compared to Kim. At this level, every play to see in London is highly entertaining. 3 hours that pass by really quickly...I enjoyed every minute of it.

morgan

Although the beginning of the play seems to drag a bit towards the end, I loved the production. The cast are brilliant, with Boss Findleys voice staying with you after the performance. I thought Kim Cattrall and Seth Numrich worked together brilliantly, they seem so comfortable around each other! I thoroughly enjoyed the play

AniaB

I must say I completely agree with Mr Lukowski's review. The play was a bit too long, and at times I wasn't quite sure what I was really watching. Despite the premise that Kim Cattrall's character is the main female lead, she's not on stage for 1/3 of it, and the story gets rather muddled. Not her fault, of course. But I would say that it was Seth Numrich who was the star of the entire play, despite Chance and Alexandra's rather lacking chemistry.

jane fisher

i went to this play yesterday afternoon. It was amazingly good. The set is superb and the acting convincing and poignantly sad. The plot line has many similarities with the Great Gatsby in its exploration of the American dream. I think it will be a big hit and i urge you to see it.

Caro

I thought this was really good. The guy who plays Chance is excellent.