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Review: Approval for A Chorus of Disapproval?

Achorusofdisapproval24sep2012threeHave experienced Rob Brydon turning a dull corporate awards ceremony into something quite fun and jolly so he certainly has comedic talent. But how does he fare in his first outing on a West End stage? 

He's playing amateur light opera society director Dafydd ap Llewellyn who is putting on a production of The Beggars Opera.

Similar to Michael Frayn's Noises Off - although this isn't as clever - Alan Ayckbourn's A Chorus of Disapproval is about the lives and loves of the am dram group and how it might jeopardise their production.

The play opens with the final song from The Beggars Opera and the curtain call. Nothing much is said but it is obvious that not all is amicable among the performers particularly towards the Opera's leading man Guy Jones (Nigel Harman). As the play winds back the clock we see Guy arriving to audition for a minor role all bumbling, shy, awkwardness and so the tale unfolds of Guy's inadvertent rise up through the society's ranks to leading man.

The Opera Society is a mixed bunch of middle class couples - a doctor and his flirty wife, an older local business man and landowner and his third wife that sort of thing - and some temperamental teens. All good 80s fare the plot weaves around dodgy land deals, affairs and a swingers party.

And yes you can't help but say it is of it's time particularly in the safe and perhaps staid hands of Sir Trevor Nunn. Dafydd for Brydon isn't a stretch of a performance; he is just as you imagine him to be, there aren't any surprises and that is fine because he doesn't disappoint. In fact he is a fine stage presence and the rest of the cast can't help but play second fiddle.

Chief second fiddles are Ashley Jenson - another safe pair of hands - as Dafydd's romance-starved wife and Harman who does a convincing job of being dorky which is praise indeed from someone who has a bit of a soft spot for him.

This is a pleasant and good, fun evening at the theatre, frothy fun and if that's all you want then you won't be disappointed. A rib-tickler rather than a rib-breaker this is safe West End fodder and I'm going to give it a narrow 4 stars. A Chorus of Disapproval runs at the Harold Pinter Theatre until January 5 - might be a fun show to see around Christmas.

You can read Poly's far more eloquent review over on her blog

Stan's ticket tip: The front row day seats at £10 are a bargain and well worth a queue. The box office opens at 10am and the fab @polyg got there just after and still secured tickets but it was a Tuesday and pre-press night so you take your gamble. Unlike many of the West End Theatre's front rows, at the Harold Pinter Theatre there is plenty of space between the seats and the stage. Yes you have to look up a bit but for £10 you can't complain. If you go for the seats on the right hand side of the row as you face the stage you'll be right by the steps that Dafydd runs up and down all the time when he is directing.


Trevor Nunn of course directed Mr W in Hamlet. Feels a bit boring that one but it is a direct link.