DIRTY ROTTEN FUN – Dirty Rotten Scoundrels Review

Of all the productions we have seen at Hart House Theatre in the past, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels is hands down the best and most entertaining show on their roster so far. Adapted from the 80’s movie of the same name, this musical pits two charming con-artists against each other in a battle of wits, cons and back-stabbing fun.

Laurence (Neil Silcox), the smart and poised veteran, has made a living out of swindling. With his trusty bodyguard Andre (Cameron Johnston), who also happens to be the Chief of Police, by his side, Laurence has mastered the art of wooing wealthy women out of their money and disappearing before they can catch their breath. Life is good.

But Laurence is bored and misses the excitement he notices outspoken amateur Freddy (Evan Dowling) gets from pulling small tricks. Freddy convinces Lawrence to show him his ways and all hell breaks loose as the two compete against each other to con the woman they have marked, Christine (Ashley Gibson), the seemingly innocent Soap Queen, a sweet girl who is pure of heart and easily likeable.

Silcox is suave and charming as Laurence and the comedic chemistry between him and Dowling is what keeps the show moving. The two produce a high energy, hilarious performance as they spin their web of lies around the other characters, including Miss Jolene (Lea Russel), who nearly steals the show with her ridiculously pink cowboy outfit and gun toting Oklahoma number.

While desperately trying to sabotage Freddy in his game of deceit, Laurence is able to keep past marks like Muriel (played by the talented Janice Hawke) at bay with the help of his trustworthy sidekick Andre, who seduces her into a frisky cat and mouse game that involves lots of champagne and handcuffs.

Full of racy comments and obscene gestures which often catch you off guard, this production has been properly modernized to include certain subtle references to today’s pop culture without jeopardizing the roots that made it memorable in the first place, a balance that we feel is necessary to stand out on stage and make a lasting impact.

Each song and dance number further enraptures you into this story of two con men playing a game of “loser leaves town”. Adapting a motion picture onto a stage is a difficult thing in of itself but to adapt a non-musical into a stage production and making it a musical is risky business. But this works, and works very well. Every character is believable and you can’t help but invest yourself in them.

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels runs at the Hart House Theatre until January 29th 2011. Tickets are $25. Don’t miss out on the Dirty Rotten Fun!

Images from Hart House Theatre