Garrick Theatre, London WC2
It is hard to take yourself seriously if you cavort around in a black, figure-hugging outfit, mask and cape, cracking a whip.
No, not the latest witness in the Max Mosley trial. We are talking about Zorro, the legend immortalised on screen by Douglas Fairbanks, and now the subject of the West End’s latest musical, loosely based on Isabelle Allende’s book, with a score by the Gipsy Kings and a hero played with charismatic self-deprecation by Matt Rawle.
This is a difficult line to tread. Take yourself too seriously and they will laugh you off the stage. Too flippant, and nobody will care.
The dramatic price of this balancing act is that Christopher Renshaw’s production is unsure whether this tosh should be comedy or melodrama. And because melodrama — here involving Zorro’s adopted evil brother Ramon (a dastardly Adam Levy) and Luisa (a virtuous Emma Williams), Zorro’s adopted sister — is not interesting any more, the audience is unsure whether to laugh or be bored.
But every time there is a whiff of tedium, the show bursts into life with thrilling flamenco and cracking one liners, the best of which are allocated in Stephen Clark’s book to Lesli Margherita’s voluptuous gypsy, Inez. “What are you going to do,” she says as Zorro suits up with cape, mask and all, “entertain them to death?”
With a proper show-stopper set to the Gipsy Kings’s biggest chart hit Bamboleo, the result may still be tosh, but it is tosh of a high order. (Tel: 0844 412 4662)