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Gigi review at Tabard Theatre, London – ‘let down by misguided direction’

Zoe Teverson and Prue Clarke in Gigi at Tabard Theatre, London. Photo: Richard Davenport Zoe Teverson and Prue Clarke in Gigi at Tabard Theatre, London. Photo: Richard Davenport
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When it came to the stage adaptation of Colette’s novella Gigi, Anita Loos was the obvious choice. The author had already created Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, and similar themes of female independence in a male-dominated society form the backbone of both books – which co-incidentally became classic musical movies.

Director Mark Giesser’s revival seems to focus on the not-inconsiderable comedy of Loos’ play, further layering it with elements of burlesque, evolving from the broad acting style adopted. In short, this production loses its way, from the anachronistic I Love Paris opening music to the cheap laughs shoehorned in, which lessen the impact of Loos’ dry humour.

Prue Clarke as Mme Alvarez and Pamela Miles as Alicia tend to lack the authority that their shared history should generate while grooming their protege. Daisy May, however, puts in an acceptable turn as Gigi, tempering a coltish energy with the gradual self-awareness central to the character – and the play’s – charm.

Amid this jumble of styles, Christopher Hone’s excellent set is a cage of deco-inspired tracery that both protects and imprisons, opening out from within to reveal Alicia’s richly decorated boudoir – although the dressing, like Giulia Scrimieri’s costumes, lacks polish.

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Revival of a classic that should be both witty and relevant is let down by misguided direction