Friday, 16 May 2014

REVIEW Ace Of Clubs, Union Theatre

Kate Gould


ONE of Noel Coward’s lesser known and rarely performed pieces is being given an airing by the Union Theatre.
Ace Of Clubs is a musical set in a Soho nightclub in the 1940s, so ingeniously that’s how it is staged in the cosy confines of the Union.
Somewhat squashed in like sardines, the audience is seated at cabaret tables so they become part of the action as the actors move about the space.
The somewhat thin but comic plot concerns cabaret and nightclub singer Pinkie Leroy who meets and falls in love with Harry, a sailor who is on leave for a few days.
However one night a scuffle takes place in the club and as Pinkie tries to flee the scene she inadvertently picks up a coat containing a stolen necklace.
There then follows all manner of chaos before things are resolved.
There are some strong performances, notably Michael Hobbs as the club MC and John Game and Liam Bewley as the gangsters Joe and Gus respectively, however it is the central characters of Emma Harris as Pinkie and Gary Wood as Harry who disappoint.
Granted, they both have lovely singing voices and Gary Wood is an amazing dancer – brilliantly displayed with a fantastic tap dance. However, their voices are no match for the orchestra and there are times when they were barely audible.
There were also times when they were hidden at one side of the stage which was a shame so it was sometimes difficult to see what was going on.
Despite this the story is attacked with gusto by the cast and there is an exuberance and fun in their performances which is infectious - the chorus was a particularly delightful highlight.

Ace Of Clubs is on at the Union Theatre, Union Street until May 31. Tickets from £19.50. Call the box office on 020 7261 9876.

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