REVIEW: Love in Idleness, Apollo Theatre

A sparkling cast makes Trevor Nunn’s take on Rattigan’s classic comedy a delight to watch from beginning to end. 

(c) Nimax Theatres.

With its brilliantly witty script and fantastic characters, Love in Idleness has plenty to offer those who are in need of gentle but ultimately affectionate entertainment and Trevor Nunn has created a classy production that really enhances the comical elements.

The story begins with the return of 18 year old Michael from Canada, who is filled with morales and ideology. But what he doesn’t know is that his mother is now the mistress of  cabinet minister Sir John Fletcher, enjoying a comfortable society life. Soon tempers and politics collide, creating absolute chaos and breaking people’s relationships along the way.

Trevor Nunn’s production combines two different versions of Love in Idleness (mixed with elements of the original play titled Less Than Kind) seamlessly that it feels fresh and vibrant, rather than a game in which you guess which element came from one or the other.

The story is straightforward and a bit basic, but yet  the way in which Rattigan and Nunn both are able to ramp up the tension between Michael and Sir John is beautifully subtle and wholly engaging as they exchange loaded remarks with regards to politics and morales, while Olivia is torn between the love she has for her son and the love that she has for Sir John trying to keep the peace.

But as well as the straightforward gentleness of the production (which can mean that the story drags in places), Nunn has assembled a cast who all shine from beginning to end – without taking the spotlight from anyone else – it is a genuine team effort.

Eve Best as Olivia is wonderfully over the top in places, but uses it not only for comic effect but show her intense vulnerability, insecurity and protectiveness when it comes to the ones that she loves. Best truly sparkles and clearly enjoys herself on stage, really at the heart of the production.

But she is more than amply supported by Anthony Head as Sir John, who delivers a suave and sophisticated performance and Edward Bluemel as Michael is a delightfully petulant but ultimately protective personality delivered with flair and flamboyance – his facial expressions and movements are worth coming to see alone. Meanwhile Charlotte Spencer as Diana (Sir John’s estranged wife) is wonderfully sharp and brittle.

Although several moments felt as though they could have been sharper, this is a lovely and sparkling comedy that deserves its place in the West End.

Love in Idleness continues to play at the Apollo Theatre until the 1st July. To book tickets visit: Ticketmaster.co.uk, Discount Theatre.com, Last Minute.com, Theatre Tickets Direct.co.uk, Love Theatre.com, Theatre People.com and UK Tickets.co.uk.  

Rating: ❤❤❤❤