Rob Brydon 'magnificent' in Nunn's Chorus of Disapproval

Oct 1, 2012

Brydon's standout performance in Ayckbourn's classic comedy makes for a blissful evening

Catherine Ashmore

What you need to know
Olivier and Tony award-winner Trevor Nunn directs this revival of Alan Ayckbourn's 1980s behind-the-stage comedy A Chorus of Disapproval for the Harold Pinter Theatre, London.

Rob Brydon makes his West End theatre debut as Dafydd, the director of an amateur theatre company. Their production of The Beggar's Opera is going off the rails until young widower Guy Jones (Nigel Harman from ShrekEastEnders), joins the cast.

Guy is soon promoted to the lead role, but trouble starts when he gets entangled with several of the female cast, including the director's wife, played by Ashley Jensen (Extras, Ugly Betty). Until 5 January.

What the critics like
It's a blissful evening, says Libby Purves in The Times. Brydon is "little short of magnificent" as the pompous director, and Ayckbourn knows how to milk a running joke, combining "sadness and hilarity to choke you both ways". It all makes for "150 very happy minutes".

There are some standout performances, says Charles Spencer in The Daily Telegraph. Brydon is "both funny and touching as the harassed, ostentatiously Welsh director and Harman is also in fine form as the play's unlikely lothario". The director's wife is played with "a lovely vulnerability" by Ashley Jensen.

Nunn's production gets full value out of classic Ayckbourn scenes, says Michael Billington in The Guardian. But it is Brydon who holds the show together with "exactly the right mix of earnestness, bossiness and twilit Celtic gloom".

What they don't like
Nunn's production needs to become more taut and vigorous, says Henry Hitchings in The Evening Standard. That will probably happen as the run continues, but as it is, A Chorus of Disapproval "feels like a less artful, less uproarious version of Michael Frayn's classic Noises Off".

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