Review: La Cage Aux Folles
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Playhouse Theatre, London WC2
VWhile DV8 delivers its serious message about gay rights at the National, this revival of Jerry Herman and Harvey Fierstein's musical handles the same theme with a much lighter touch. It is yet another transfer from the Menier Chocolate Factory, the tiny South London powerhouse that scooped the Olivier awards with its revival of Sunday in the Park With George.
Douglas Hodge reprises and enhances his performance as the deeply sensitive Albin, the diva drag artist and main draw of a St Tropez transvestite nightclub run by Denis Law's Georges.
Terry Johnsons's production always felt more cramped than cosy at the Chocolate Factory. Here it benefits from the extra space: the terrifyingly muscular transvestite chorus can strut their stuff - and Lynne Page's choreography - without fear of knocking out a member of the audience. By contrast, Law, who replaces Philip Quast, is like a nimble Ernie Wise in a role that amounts to the gay straight man opposite Hodge's very funny, extravagantly camp and movingly compassionate Albin who pretends to be the mother of George's improbably conceived son.
Herman's songs are irresistible, and Hodge, relying on a roughly hewn cabaret delivery, sings I Am What I Am with a bit of Piaf here, a touch of Ethel Merman there and even a smidgeon of Garbo. It is the most endearing performance in the West End. (Tel: 0870 060 6631)