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All Bob’s Women: an Italian Alfie in very poor disguise?

PUBLISHED: 16:38 02 July 2008 | UPDATED: 17:18 16 August 2010

CABBIE LOVE?: Cast members of All Bob’s Women go tete a tete.

CABBIE LOVE?: Cast members of All Bob’s Women go tete a tete.

DESCRIBED as a big hit in Italy, All Bob s Women opened last week at the Arts Theatre, Great Newport Street. Whether it is still running by the time you read this is unlikely, writes Mark Campbell. Simply put, the script for All Bob s Women is dire.

DESCRIBED as "a big hit" in Italy, All Bob's Women opened last week at the Arts Theatre, Great Newport Street. Whether it is still running by the time you read this is unlikely, writes Mark Campbell.

Simply put, the script for All Bob's Women is dire.

Freely translated from Romy Padovano's original Italian by various people whose names I shall not reveal (for their own protection), there is barely a trace of wit, sophistication or originality in the entire project.

Padovano's songs are sub-cabaret dirges. The plot makes no sense and is peopled with entirely unbelievable characters who behave in irritatingly contrived ways; all wrapped up inside a pretentious monologue that desperately tries to convince us we should be taking this seriously.

Well I take theft seriously, and here Padovano has stolen wholesale the plot of Alfie - and in so doing turned it into a flaccid semi-farce with neither the depth or the humour of the original (or even, come to that, the remake - it's that bad).

The performers, however, are clearly doing all they can to make the best of the material they've been given.

No-one can accuse them of slacking - all six actors put their heart and soul into selling us this entirely unsellable product.

Someone should tell them it's not worth it.

Samuel Oatley promises star quality with his perfectly toned body and similarly well-honed comic timing as Alfie - sorry, Bob - but the purpose of his cross-dressing routine left me mystified.

Failed Nancy, Amy Booth-Steel gives the best performance of the night as the Brummie artist Gem, backed by Tanya Robb, Sharon Cherry Ballard and Nicole Faraday as Bob's other conquests. Lucy Thatcher brings a touch of high-class glamour to proceedings.

Directed by Russell Labey, All Bob's Women is not raunchy enough or camp enough to even attract the after-pub brigade looking for a quick fix of smut before they go home, despite its late start time of 9.30.

And though some might say the 70-minute running time is too short to do the show justice, I'd say it was about an hour too long.

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