EODS are having a ball with High Society at the Devonshire Park Theatre this week, writes Kevin Anderson.
High Society is a classic, but a flawed classic.
It’s a fault of the writing, not the acting nor of Keith Smith’s very experienced directing, but it makes the first half, especially, a bit under-powered. But be patient: an exuberant second half is well worth waiting for. At the very centre Hannah Poynter is absolutely stunning as Tracy Lord. Her singing is clear and strong, and her natural ease persuades us that spoiled American heiresses can actually be lovable. Tracy is spoiled for choice between James Cooper as a nicely buttoned-up husband-to-be and Phil Poole as Dexter, her suavely seductive ex. The engaging journalist pair of Dave Nicholls and Tiffany De Silva add to the amorous complexities of the plot. The company, in fact, spans the full spectrum from EODS nobility – stately Bryan Ayres and canny Avril Francis-Bell as the parents – through to a lovely debut from Catriona Houston. And after that slow-burn opening, the show finally lets its hair down with a superb Finale Act One. A wonderfully inebriated quartet brilliantly captures the Swell Party spirit which is the essence of Cole Porter. Under Carl Greenwood’s brisk, intuitive baton the band just breezes along while Teresa Smith’s choreography is disciplined but never bland. High Society was arguably a bold EODS choice, but there is no question in the end: it’s a resonant success.