There's something uninspiring about the way this show was created. Composer and lyricist David Yazbek was looking down MGM's list of films that the studio were willing to have adapted into a musical. By coincidence, so was book writer Jeffrey Lane.
The headline here is all about the star playing Madame Arcati in Noel Coward's eternal comedy classic. That, and her age. At 88, Angela Lansbury delivers the role with a touch of comic genius that runs through this production by Michael Blakemore - who, at 85, is himself no newbie.
With wine-red plaited braids coiled over her ears, Lansbury's psychic looks like a Teutonic hippie.
Let us put the deliberately off-putting title aside for a moment. When this satire by composer Mark Hollmann and writer Greg Kotis about corporate greed and environmental collapse opened on Broadway in 2001, it had a fan base that adored its subversion of the optimistic musical.
Buried in a desert, eventually up to her neck. Deprived of sleep by a bell that in Natalie Abrahami’s Young Vic production is an ear-splitting, metallic klaxon. And all the while being slowly baked by a merciless sun. Yet Winnie’s cheery optimism never ceases to amaze.
The inaugural production at Shakespeare’s Globe’s newest candlelit indoor venue is the big story here. That is not to say that former Bond girl Gemma Arterton is not eminently watchable in the tile role of John Webster’s Jacobean tragedy. Lit by the softest of lighting, there is a serene beauty about her.
The London stage currently boasts two of Shakespeare's most alpha males, each played by a Hollywood leading man. While, at the Noel Coward, Jude Law's Henry V lays siege to the French town of Harfleur, at the Donmar, the one-man army that is Tom Hiddleston's Caius Martius storms the Italian city of Corioles. These two come hardish on the heels of James McAvoy's battle-hardened Macbeth.
Matt Smith packs more defined pecs than you might expect of a former Doctor Who. The ripped torso rises out of the Almeida's stage as smoothly as a cassette ejecting from a high-end, late-20th-century tape deck.