Quote Of The Day

"Victory goes to the player who makes the next-to-last mistake - Chessmaster Savielly Grigorievitch Tartakower (1887-1956)"

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Stephen Ward...

Last night Stuart and I went to see Andrew Lloyd Weber's new musical Stephen Ward at the Aldwych Theatre.

Set in 1963 the musical deals with the Profumo Affair, the political scandal that involved then Minister for War, John Profumo, and Christine Keeler, with whom he had an affair. This lead to revelations, resignations and the eventual collapse of Harold Macmillan's Tory Government.

The person who introduced them and who got vilified by the Establishment for it was osteopath Stephen Ward. Scapegoated by the press and the police he was soon driven to suicide.

With hindsight it was Stephen Ward who was the real victim of the Profumo Affair - not, as is widely supposed, John Profumo himself.

On paper this musical looks like an easy sell: music by Andrew Lloyd Weber, lyrics by Don Black, chequebook-journalism, the role of a free press, the sexual morality of the rich and famous, the sex lives of politicians, two-timing glamour pusses, Russian spies, celebrities who aren't quite what they seem, police corruption, the class system and social change.

Sadly it didn't really deliver. The music was sort of OK but some of the lyrics dire, Stephen Ward (Alexander Hanson) was pretty flat, the plot a mess. It looked like the piece had been the victim of rewrites and had been rewritten into a dogs dinner.

The two female leads Christine Keeler (Charlotte Spencer) and Mandy Rice-Davies (Charlotte Blackledge) were great though. It was just a shame that they were given such trite things to do and say.

At it's heart you had no sympathy for the Stephen Ward character and the six-form drama production values (did we really need him to be next to a waxwork Hitler and an acid bath murdered?) didn't help. And don't get me started on all those curtains.

Tonight's it's press night. Let's see how kind they are to it and whether it finds an audience.

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