Ruthless! review

Ruthless! review

Ruthless! Review - Broadway musical

Camp, says one of the gay men in Matthew Lopez’s new play, The Inheritance, is like a degrading form of minstrelsy. That remark echoed in my mind while watching this 25-year-old off-Broadway musical with a score by Marvin Laird and book and lyrics by Joel Paley.

It offers two hours of unrelieved camp that, by the end, had me longing for some other business than show business.

Its theme is the murderous obsessiveness it supposedly takes to get to the top. Laird and Paley demonstrate this through characters who include a demonic tot who bumps off a rival in a school musical, her mother who belatedly turns into a Broadway star and a manic agent who has her own thwarted dreams. You can tick off one by one the allusions to The Bad Seed, All About Eve, Gypsy, Mame and even, when the child’s mother exits suggestively dragging a chair, the Bob Fosse school of choreography. The problem is twofold: the show aims at so many targets it hits none of them and, while sending up the single-minded nature of show business, it seems hopelessly enthralled by it.

Richard Fitch’s production strikes camp from the start with Jason Gardiner, a judge on ITV’s Dancing on Ice, playing the female agent as if nothing succeeds like excess. Anya Evans, one of four kids cast as the mercilessly ambitious Tina, suggests a dangerous version of Shirley Temple while Kim Maresca implies that behind every suburban mum lurks a performer hungering for the spotlight. But my main sympathy lay with Tracie Bennett as a waspish theatre critic who sings I Hate Musicals. For once I found myself in reluctant agreement.
Last Update:October, 24th 2023

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