Love London Love Culture rounds up the reviews for Sean Foley’s adaptation of the film starring Stephen Mangan and Kara Tointon.
The Daily Mail: *** “No one puts a foot wrong, yet sporadic laughter is more appreciative than festive. When a comedy has to work this hard, it’s often because it’s not working at all. Be warned: pedigree is no substitute for chemistry.”
The Guardian: *** “It is all hectically and boisterously theatrical but what I missed was the movie’s quietly satirical portrait of a sclerotic society in which it appeared nothing would ever change.”
Variety: “Aside from Mangan who, when allowed by the script, brings warmth and considerable ease to the puzzlingly inconsistent role of Sidney — he’s clumsy and unaware, except when he’s conveniently not — the characterization is noisily one-note. “
The Times: * “Can you improve on a film that’s so nimble and witty? Is Stephen Mangan capable of eclipsing Alec Guinness? There were plenty of reasons to be sceptical about a stage version of a much-loved Ealing comedy.”
The Stage: *** “It wouldn’t have taken much to make it feel timely, but Foley’s production doesn’t trust the audience. It underlines each contemporary parallel heavily to make sure no one misses it. Hard as the cast works, and they work very hard, the whole thing feels laboured.”
The Telegraph: *** ” I’m not sure that it quite qualifies as an outright comedy classic, though. That’s partly down to the premise, partly down to the central performance. Alec Guinness was severe and intense as geek protagonist Sidney Stratton, a Cambridge-educated chemistry nut who returns north and hits on a formula for a dirt-resistant, indestructible fabric that could change the world”
Londonist: *** “The leads work almost desperately hard, and there are moments especially in the second half when Stephen Mangan’s sheer niceness might win you over. Hanging out of an MG roadster in a car chase is terrific but just highlights how difficult it is to stage film scenes.”
The Metro: ** “Tointon’s clipped upper-class English is pleasingly both period and parody. And the evening is buoyed by Sue Johnston’s good-hearted landlady. But neither they, nor the excellent Mangan, can save it.”
The Arts Desk: *** “Of course, what seemed like sci-fi originally is now almost a reality with innovations like hydrophobic clothes, while many will probably feel a (somewhat Brexit-adjacent) sense of nostalgia for this kind of old-fashioned, mill-focussed community, untroubled by global competition and cheap labour – as well as the maverick enthusiasm of British inventor Sidney, unfettered by health and safety concerns. That rather muddles Foley’s messaging, but will likely do the show’s commercial appeal no harm.”
Broadway World: **** “In a world that feels like everything is doom and gloom, it’s both a joy and a relief to be able to escape into a fun-filled show such as this. Two hours of pure delight.”
London Theatre.co.uk: ** “But the explosions are never matched by corresponding eruptions of laughter. I’m not sure writer-director Sean Foley knows quite where things are going wrong, so he keeps driving the comedy in ever more convoluted, desperate directions.”
Beyond the Joke.co.uk: “it’s jolly and it is impossible not to enjoy seeing Stephen Mangan’s trousers explode during an experiment in the lab. There is also a nice puppet-based chase sequence through a Lowryesque backdrop, although I couldn’t help thinking I’d seen something similar before. Maybe in the previous Ealing adaption directed by Foley, The Ladykillers?”
Time Out: ** “The staging is inventive, but that and a few nods to fast fashion and a reference to proroguing parliament can’t redeem this charmless outfit. Suits you, sir? No, not really.”
The Man in the White Suit will play at the Wyndham’s Theatre until 11 January 2019.