Review: Anything Goes, National Theatre

Anything Goes is a Cole Porter show, directed here at the National Theatre by Trevor Nunn, which has to be one of the happiest, sunniest ways to spend an evening ever, this feel-good show really does work wonders and should be seen by everyone. Set onboard a cruise liner, there’s a tangled web of romantic intentions with singer Reno in love with Billy who loves Hope who’s engaged to an English Lord who just happens to be keen on Reno. Throw in people running from the law, a minor gangster and his moll and a bunch of tap-happy sailors, plus a generous dollop of schmaltz and everyone’s a winner.

Stephen Mears’ choreography which is played out on a relatively static set, the multi-level deck of the cruise liner, was probably my favourite element of the night, if pushed, the sheer imagination and skill on display is just breath-taking and magnificent to watch – the excellent tap numbers just make me want to learn to do it properly. But there’s no real weaknesses here and Porter’s music is just so full of classic songs that everything is just so irresistible, it really was one of those evenings where I didn’t stop smiling.

John Barrowman – a man who has that kind of matinee idol looks that can only ever be described as handsome – makes a fine Billy, lovable and believable and very fine of voice, his skill at singing Porter’s songs making them feel fresh and new. He had nice chemistry with Mary Stockley’s Hope with whom he shares a number of duets but it is Sally Ann Triplett’s Reno Sweeny who emerges as the star of the night, combining great comedic skills with a belting voice that blows (Gabriel Blows) the show up to heavenly heights.

I don’t think there was a moment of dullness in the entire production though, each number has its own special quality, enlivened by fantastic performances from everyone concerned. Whether its Simon Day’s losing his inhibitions on ‘Gypsy in Me’, Annette McLaughlin’s ballsy Erma or Martin Marquez’s highly comic Moonface, the quality in this ensemble really shone through making it a highly enjoyable experience from start to finish.

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