BWW Reviews: ANGELS DINING AT THE RITZ, The Space, October 7 2011

Like its subject, Angels Dining at the Ritz blends old and new in a pacy, rewarding show in which everyone can find something that makes them feel at home. Accompanied by Micah Rose-Trespeuch at the piano and Rian Pearl on stage, Darrie Gardner sings a selection of songs that comprise a love letter to the mighty Metropolis, images of which are projected on the back wall. There are standards to enjoy, like Noel Coward's London Pride and Ralph McTell's Steets of London and crowdpleasers with which one can join in, like The Lambeth Walk and Burlington Bertie. Ms Gardner is at her best when she puts her own interpretation on more contemporary material - with a deep, rich voice (think Abba's Frida rather than Agnetha), her versions of Kirsty McColl's Soho Square and a beautifully slowed-down take on Ray Davies' Waterloo Sunset are the standouts from the set.

But cabaret isn't cabaret without a little dancing and a little patter and, with help from a bowler hatted Mr Pearl, Ms Gardner brings us a few stock London characters (the Billingsgate fishmonger with an appalling line in piscine puns, the squiffy aristocrat remembering the Society in the Thirties, the American tourists misunderstanding the riots) allowing her the chance to show off excellent comic timing.

Though hearing of the joys of London life can grate on non-Londoners after a while, there's plenty in the show to keep young and old tapping their toes. It's a phrase not often heard these days and one that almost carries pejorative overtones, but the show is best described as light entertainment - and what's wrong, in this most difficult of years for London, in its citizens being entertained with a light touch? The Talk of the Town may be long gone, but talk (and song) of the town proves to be as good today as ever it were.

Angels Dining at the Ritz is at The Space until October 7 and on tour.

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From This Author Gary Naylor