Withnail and I evaluation: Endlessly quotable comedy of dangerous manners | Theatre | Entertainment | EUROtoday

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Bruce Robinson’s cult film about two bibulous actors staggers onto the stage 37 years late.

Written in 1987 however set in 1969, it’s an endlessly quotable comedy of dangerous manners reproduced surprisingly effectively in Sean Foley’s manufacturing. Running out of cash and alcohol, the dissolute Withnail (Robert Sheehan) and his roommate Marwood aka ‘I’ (Adonis Siddique) resolve to go away their squalid Camden flat and drive to The Lake District to remain in a distant nation cottage owned by Withnail’s Uncle Monty (Malcolm Sinclair). Oblivious to Monty’s sexuality, Marwood is alarmed by the sudden arrival of the ageing queen who has designs on him. That’s just about it for the plot.

But Robinson’s semi-autobiographical script is admittedly about an period on the cusp of change, the Swinging Sixties had swung and gone and bohemian glamour was being displaced by sleaze, habit and unemployment.

Above all, its best strengths are the characters and extremely refined comedian dialogue.

Withnail is a neo-Restoration dandy gone to seed, spitting epigrams like a low hire Oscar Wilde. Sheehan appears the half although he hasn’t fairly mastered the entitled sneer that got here naturally to Richard E. Grant and he must dial down the melodramatic diva gestures. Siddique is an efficient foil because the bewildered Marwood, narrating their misadventures to the viewers like a befuddled Chorus. Sinclair repurposes Uncle Monty from the movie’s grotesque, pathetic predator right into a fastidious and camp character of a bygone period, a kind of Gielgud manqué.

The dwell rock band led by singer/comic Sooz Kempner blasts out fragments of songs from teams of the period with a delightful lack of restraint.

And hats off to designer Alice Power whose infinitely adaptable units conjure flats, pubs and a tea room whereas permitting Akhila Krishnan’s video design to simulate streets and motorways as the 2 reprobates head off in Marwood’s battered automotive.

It could be unimaginable to emulate the film in all its ragged finery however it is a fairly good try at conjuring the spirit of Robinson’s hilarious story of failure, curdled optimism and the best wines accessible to humanity.

The automotive, specifically, is a triumph. (Actually, it’s a Jaguar Mk II).