La Cage aux Folles, Park Theatre – Review

La Cage aux Folles, Park Theatre – Review

La Cage aux Folles has seen various incarnations over the years – play, stage musical and movies. The Park Theatre has taken it back to the original 1973 play, this time translated and adapted by Simon Callow. In the Saint Tropez home of couple Georges and Albin Georges’ son, Laurent, is welcomed home, only to reveal that he is getting married. He announces that his fiancée and soon-to-be in-laws are coming to visit imminently, but his future father-in-law is a staunchly right-wing politician who campaigns against all things homosexual. This is a slight problem as Georges owns the drag…

Summary

Rating

60

Good

A theatrical comedy classic brought back to the original, and for the first time in English. Camp it up with feathers and sequins and watch a family gathering go spectacularly awry!

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La Cage aux Folles has seen
various incarnations over the years – play, stage musical and movies. The Park
Theatre has taken it back to the original 1973 play, this time translated and
adapted by Simon Callow.

In the Saint Tropez home of couple Georges and Albin Georges’
son, Laurent, is welcomed home, only to reveal that he is getting married. He
announces that his fiancée and soon-to-be in-laws are coming to visit imminently,
but his future father-in-law is a staunchly right-wing politician who campaigns
against all things homosexual. This is a slight problem as Georges owns the
drag club downstairs where Albin is the star attraction.

Mayhem ensues as everyone tries to remove all traces of the
unorthodox abode in an attempt to appear conventional. Rococo elements, nude
statues and feather boas are replaced by a spartan interior style, complete
with Christ on a crucifix!

Laurent’s mother is called upon to play her part in the
deception but when she is late to arrive Albin adapts his drag persona to
become Georges wife.

Can they pull it off?

Michael Matus is wonderful as Georges, trying to hold
everything together and deny his true self for the love and happiness of his
son. Paul Hunter as Albin goes full on diva for us, in both sequinned gowns and
matronly attire.

They are attended to by Syrus Lowe as the flamboyant Jacob,
divinely decadent in gold-sequinned miniscule shorts.

Inevitably the desperate façade crumbles and with the
paparazzi in hot pursuit of a conservative politician in a drag club they need
an exit plan, pronto!

If your only experience of the play has been in the guise
of the Hollywood movie The Birdcage then you may feel that the format
has been taken down a peg or two here; but Robin Williams and Nathan Lane leave
big shoes to fill. Try to put that aside and enjoy this on its own merits.

Some areas are a little weak – the grand reveal finale could
do with some adjustments. It would have more impact if the actors were to
change costumes off stage then make an entrance, rather than changing on stage
in a somewhat disorganised fashion. However, if you go along with an open mind
and ready for laughter you should leave happily chuckling.

So many freedoms are taken for granted today but in the early 1970s this would have been a brave production. To portray a gay couple as a happy family, complete with child, would have been seen as audacious in many circles. Comedy is to be applauded, and it definitely will be here, but this play is also a reminder of how far society has come, and that we may still have room for improvement.

Original Author: Jean PoiretAdapted by: Simon CallowDirected by: Jez BondProduced by: Rachael Williams and Adam BlanshayBox Office: 020 7870 6876Booking Link: https://www.parktheatre.co.uk/whats-on/la-cage-aux-folles-the-playBooking Until: 21 March 2020