Willie Solomons writes from London’s theatreland: A big man stopped by a late night table at London’s fashionable eatery J Sheekey’s on Monday and said to one of the women: ‘I’ve just seen you in A Chorus of Disapproval. You were great and I should know: I’m one of the show’s backers. I’m glad you’re in it.’
And that, ladies & gentlemen, was a really great way of saying that this week a star was born in London’s West End theatre.
The lady at the table was Georgia Brown. No, no, no, not the late wonderful Georgia Brown, singer and actress. This is the new Georgia B – also a singer and actress with rare talent and it sparkles in not the biggest part in Alan Ayckbourn’s A Chorus of Disapproval which has not been seen in London for 25 years.
The star is Rob Brydon making, surprisingly, his West End debut and you have to get half-way down the cast before you get to Georgia Brown’s Bridget Baines. In a blissfully fine cast including Nigel Harman, Ashley Jensen, Teresa Banham and Daisy Beaumont and with Trevor Nunn directing, a debutante either does OKish or something special happens. It did. Georgia B is at home on the West End stage. She’s comfortable living the dream.
Since leaving LAMDA a couple or so years ago, she threw herself into the graft of learning her craft on the road. It’s a hard, hard road and every really talented hopeful is on it and too often in the way and travelling at twice the speed.
She devised and played her own stand-up on the North London circuit where audiences want you to succeed and are really, really pleased when you bomb. She took her show to Edinburgh and the word spread. This was a supernova that would shine with enormous energy but would not burn out. Go see for yourselves at the Harold Pinter Theatre (used to be the Comedy) off Leicester Square.
Trevor Nunn has taken Ayckbourn’s J B Priestley-style story of the failing Light Operatic Society where the best action is off-stage and turned it into a mirrorscope of pettiness at its deliciously worst, squabbling at its silliest and most of all very modern personality supremely puffed up at its own importance. If this were Shakespeare in modern frock, it would be set in the House of Commons.
The tunes prove the devil doesn’t have the best ones because the naively innocent seek elevators to karaoke them. That’s what the show does. It romps where Good Companions (wrong comparison but it’ll do) trod steadily and Nunn makes it work even better than it did at the National in the 1980s.
It’s not with us long (early January) but the Lords of theatreland willing, Georgia B most certainly is. Send flowers. She’s worth it. Tell your friends.