Directed by Simon Callow and with an all-star cast including the speccie one from The Inbetweeners (that would be Simon Bird), model Lily Cole, plus the IT Crowd’s Matt Berry – I had rather high expectations when I went to see The Philanthropist at the Trafalgar Studios last week.
The venue itself is a charming intimate space on Whitehall just off of Trafalgar Square – and the staging was beautifully done. Our very reasonably priced tickets afforded us seats just two rows from the front, which was rather excellent particularly as most of the acting took place with the cast sat around on chairs and sofas in the main character’s lounge so we almost felt as though you were part of the party.
The play itself starts with an ‘accidental’ death, brought about in part by the main character played by Bird. He then goes onto to accidentally sleep with someone who isn’t his fiancée and not enjoy the experience and thereby accidentally upsetting the person he accidentally sleeps with…(who is Lily Cole – the phrase ‘punching above one’s weight’ did spring to mind at this point). And then he basically kind of screw up his life – I won’t reveal any more as it will spoil the play.
The play is in parts funny and in parts cringey. The young cast are perhaps a little too young to play the roles in which they have been cast (apparently although the Bird character was written to be aged from mid twenties to mid forties, the role is most usually played by an actor at the higher end of this age bracket…). However they all make a stirling effort and I would recommend definitely going to see it, but perhaps with slightly lower expectations than I went with.
The Philanthropist is on at Trafalgar Studios until 22 July.