A Comedy of Tenors

Aug 24 2023 | By More

★★★★☆      Ludicrous

The Royal Scots Club (Venue 241): Mon 21 – Sat 26 Aug 2023
Review by Hugh Simpson

The Edinburgh Makars sail through the old-fashioned farce of A Comedy of Tenors at The Royal Scots Club with about as much pace, timing and sheer energy as you could hope.

The title of Ken Ludwig’s play may evoke Shakespeare, but it is more redolent of Brian Rix – complete with dropped trousers. It starts with the discovery of discarded underwear, which gives a good indication of the tone.

Fiona Main, Kieran Laskawy and Georgia Smith. Pic Pierre de Roubin.

Originally a sequel to the probably better known Lend Me A Tenor, this is set in 1930s Paris, where ageing tenor Tito Merelli (Timothy Bond) is to take part in what promoter Henry Saunders (Russell Loten) is convinced will be the greatest concert the city has ever seen,

As well as Saunders’s son-in-law Max (Robert Wyllie), the concert will feature Merelli’s nemesis, the younger and better-looking Carlo Nucci (Kieran Laskawy). Nucci is in a relationship with Merelli’s daughter Mimi (Georgia Smith), but the oblivious Merelli is soon convinced Nucci is having an affair with his wife Maria (Fiona Main).

Merelli leaves in high dudgeon, but luckily the hotel has an employee who is his double, with a voice to match…

relentless internal logic

That, of course, is not even half the story. It has to be said that it does not get any more sensible, but it does certainly have the relentless internal logic needed in a successful farce.

The cast and director Dario Dalla Costa play it to the hilt and then some, giving the audience just enough time to savour each ridiculous situation, without letting them wonder why nobody takes the three seconds to stop and think what is all that would be needed to sort everything out.

Timothy Bond and Robert Wylie. Pic Pierre de Roubin.

Bond shines in his double role. Merelli’s display of wounded egotism is matched by Main’s splendid timing as his wife, which all means that you can forgive the ridiculous accents. Bond also plays the singing bellhop Beppo with real humour.

The moments where he leaves as one character, only to enter as the other through another door seconds later, are testament to Dalla Costa’s excellent use of the acting space. This is greatly enhanced by Mike Appleby’s sturdy set and the sound and lighting of Martin Burnell.

frenetic comic air

The constant references to Saunders’s time in Norwich inescapably bring Alan Partridge to mind, and there is definitely something of that character (or Basil Fawlty) in Loten’s combination of self-importance crossed with flustered likeability.

There is also a pleasingly frenetic comic air to Wyllie’s performance, with Smith and Laskawy providing grounded characterisations that help to anchor the chaos. Emma Swift’s comic nous as a Russian soprano also impresses, with Pierre de Roubin providing a well-judged cameo.

Georgia Smith and Kieran Laskawy. Pic Pierre de Roubin

The vocal number featuring the three tenors does not necessarily give evidence that it would reallybe the greatest concert ever, but is done with the maximum of commitment.

At first it seems that the humour is going to rely too much on stereotyping of nationalities and silly voices, but it soon becomes a riot of implausible plausibility. Even the references to it being like a French farce, or Saunders’s remark that ‘nothing else can go wrong’, work quite well.

The efforts of the cast and some pin-sharp directing mean that as an example of the genre this is pretty hard to beat.

Running time: One hour and 40 minutes (no interval)
The Royal Scots Club (Hepburn Suite), 29-31 Abercromby Place, EH3 6QE (Venue 241)
Monday 21 – Saturday 26 August 2023
Daily at 7.30 pm
Tickets and details Book here.

Edinburgh Makars links

Company website: www.edinburghmakars.com

Twitter: @EdinMakars

Instagram: @edinburghmakars

Facebook: @edinburghmakars

Fiona Main, Georgia Smith, Russell Loten, Robert Wylie and Pierre de Roubin. Pic Dario Dalla Costa.



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