Sunday, 12 November 2017

Review: The Tailor-Made Man

Hey readers!
It's time for my review of The Tailor-Made Man.
After seeing In the Dead of Night over two years ago, I had a conversation with Claudio Macor, the playwright, about several theatre shows. During this conversation he told me of his biggest hit, The Tailor-Made Man. Little did I know that two years later I would have the privilege of seeing the 25th anniversary of The Tailor-Made Man at the White Bear Theatre!

The group of actors that star in The Tailor-Made Man are amongst some of the most talented performers I have seen this year. Each and every individual that stars in this show brings something very unique to the stage. This production has been very thoughtfully cast and I commend the casting director for his outstanding choices when selecting each of them. Leading this cast was Mitchell Hunt as Billy Haines and Tom Berkeley as Jimmie Shields. Mitchell Hunt plays the role of Billy in a very realistic and natural way; he embodied all the required traits for the character. Tom Berkley's performance of Jimmie was extremely heartfelt, it was impossible not to like Jimmie's warm personality. Tom Berkley showed a clear character throughout and it was apparent that a lot of effort had gone in to the characterisation. Dean Harris, as Louis B. Mayer, is yet another actor that showed clear characterisation throughout. It was crystal clear that so much effort had gone in to Dean Harris's portrayal of L.B., the performance had absolutely everything. He had a voice full of thunder, a wonderful physicality and a larger than life stage presence. Every time that Dean Harris entered the stage, he was captivating. Yvonne Lawlor, performing as Marion Davies, showed a very wide range of skills and came across as being very natural onstage. It was evident that she was perfect for the role. Edwin Flay as Howard Strickling, Henry Felix as Victor Darro, Rachel Knowles as Carole Lombard/Pola Negri and Peter Dewhurst as Hoper/Thalberg/Roderick were all also expectational; there was no weak link in this cast whatsoever.

Claudio Macor's ingenious writing is filled with excitement throughout the play. There is never a dull moment in The Tailor-Made Man, which makes the time absolutely fly by. The story follows Hollywood film star Billy Haines, a popular silent screen MGM movie star who was fired by Louis B Mayer because he was a homosexual and refused to give up his lifelong partner, Jimmie Shields, and marry the silent screen vamp Pola Negri. As punishment, his films were removed from release and sealed in the MGM vaults never to be seen again, and his studio photographs destroyed. This story is particularly noteworthy, as it is a true story. It is highly thought provoking and deeply saddening. The direction and staging, by Bryan Hodgson, is highly noticeable and absolutely excellent. He has made a very noteworthy contribution to the play and can definitely be credited for a large portion of this production's success.

The stage at the White Bear Theatre is fairly small, leaving a small amount of space for the set design, however I thought that the set was still absolutely brilliant and served the show well. I loved all the costumes that featured in the production and they were particularly helpful to help transport its audience to the 1920's. The lighting design was also very effective and helped to add to the atmosphere of the play.

Despite this being a fringe theatre production, it was certainly a lot better than some of the plays that can be found in the West End. This play deserves to play to a much larger audience, so I will keep my fingers crossed that this will someday transfer to the West End!

The featured star of The Tailor-Made Man is, drum roll please... DEAN HARRIS!

With such a phenomenal cast, I had a lot of options on who to choose for featured star. It was extremely difficult, but I came to the conclusion that I had to choose Dean Harris. This was a sensational performance. I was absolutely spellbound by his performance; he had full control of the stage throughout. Everything about this performance was outstanding!

Now for my final verdict on The Tailor-Made Man. I give The Tailor-Made Man...

I decided to give The Tailor-Made Man 4 stars in a heartbeat; it is very deserving of this rating. The Tailor-Made Man is playing at the White Bear Theatre until the 25th of November, so if this show appeals to you, don't miss it!

Think it should have got a higher rating? Agree with my rating? Think it should have got a lower rating? If so comment below.

Thanks for reading!

-The Reviewer

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