Beau Brummell – An Elegant Madness, 4 Stars

European Arts Company presents
Beau Brummell – An Elegant Madness
Jermyn Street Theatre
Monday 13th February – Saturday 11th March 2017

“Brummell once said that ‘To be truly elegant, one should not be noticed’ and now he is largely forgotten. We hope this production will go some way to restoring his reputation.

Brummell was the first man to be famous just for being famous but, like Oscar Wilde seventy years later, he had a tragic fall from grace. Combining the grandeur of King Lear with the regency farce of Blackadder III, the play examines questions of class, style, romanticism, revolution, dementia and decay”.

Richard Lambert Review, 4 Stars

Beau Brummell is notably renowned for inventing the traditional man’s suit. Moving the upper classes of Georgian England away from gaudy colours and 3 foot high wigs into a more respectable clothing design.

Born in 1778 but not into aristocracy, he was educated at Eton. It seems likely it was his wit and dress sense that attracted the Prince, probably while Brummell was still at Eton. Beau (a nickname due to his fashionable attire and attitude) left Oxford after just 1 term and joined the army – into the Prince of Wales own regiment no less. He became part of the inner circle of the Prince’s companions. Upon coming of age Beau inherited a huge fortune from his father’s estate and set about becoming the best dressed gentleman in London.

He could bring someone into fashion by showing them favour or put someone out of fashion by cutting them. Brummell was famous for his wit, but infamous for his rudeness. It was this rudeness which eventually cost him the Prince of Wales’ regard. “Alvanley, who’s your fat friend?” he asked, referring to the Prince. Preferring paupery to loss of honour in payment of gambling debts.

The lighting design (Duncan Hands) is very neat and orderly! With symmetrical rig and uniform  barn doors the attention to detail in it’s rigging is impressive! I’m sure Brummell himself would approve! The play doesn’t have many lighting Cues but it’s a nice touch when the dressing and undressing of Brummell takes place – regal music plays and the lights zone down to the space around Brummell making it a very grand and pompous occasion. Director Peter Craze choreographs these moments as something precise, orderly and considered.

The Sound Design felt a little intrusive – coming in and punching a little too loud for the small space.

The drapes and pieces of furniture work to create a tatty space that Brummell now inhabits. Set in France, the window overlooks the street. The window built as a garden gate, a barrier to the World outside this rather claustrophobic space. It isn’t until later in the play that we see the true insanity of Brummell when he talks to friends who are now enemies as if they’re still friends who’ve come to visit.

Through discussions and memoirs we learn how Brummell was once in the highest of circles but now impoverished and living in this room in France. Despite his dishevelled wardrobe he’s preserved his obsession to be well dressed, immaculately turned out, right to the end. He constantly looks at himself in the full-length mirror, but what does he see? Does he see the reality?

The play is a little drawn out but very enjoyable! Sean Brosnan and Richard Latham are well cast in their roles. With some cracking  lines throughout. This is a lovely play right in the heart of London. It has to be produced at the Jermyn Street Theatre – just a hop and a skip away from Beau Brummell’s Statue on Jermyn Street.

Monday 13th February – Saturday 11th March 2017
Monday-Friday, 7.30pm
Saturday, 3.30pm and 7.30pm

Running time 2 hours (including an interval)

Twitter @EuropeanArtsCo, @jstheatre, #BeauBrummell

Writer Ron Hutchinson
Director Peter Craze
Design Helen Coyston
Producer European Arts Company
Photo Credit Savannah Photographic

Cast Sean Brosnan, Richard Latham

Location Jermyn Street Theatre, 16b Jermyn Street, London SW1Y 6ST

How to get there Jermyn Street Theatre is located on Jermyn Street. The nearest underground stations are Charing Cross (on the Bakerloo and Northern lines), Piccadilly Circus (on the Bakerloo and Piccadilly lines), and Green Park (on the Victoria, Jubilee and Piccadilly lines). The nearest rail station is Charing Cross.