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  The Theatreguide.London Review


Alex
Arts Theatre Autumn 2007; Leicester Square Theatre Winter 2008

Alex is a comic strip by Charles Peattie and Russell Taylor that runs in the financial pages of The Daily Telegraph, generating fun out of the life of a financial wheeler-dealer in the City.

This stage version by Peattie and Taylor brings some of the regular characters in the strip to life (sort of), stringing together gags and situations in a unifying plotline. Though never rising much beyond the pleasantly amusing, it's clever and cleverly done, and you don't really have to know (or care) much about the financial world to enjoy it.

Actually, there's only one live performer, Robert Bathurst as Alex, interacting with still or animated cartoon figures projected on several screens around him. The gimmick was impressive when I first saw it in 1964, and hasn't really advanced much since, though it is still amusing when, for example, a cartoon figure somehow hands Alex a real prop.

The plot has investment banker Alex coping with a client whose company is going broke and a wife who wants to leave him, facing professional and personal ruin, and somehow managing to come out - if not quite on top, at least with job and marriage still tenuously in his grasp.

Along the way there are jokes both at him - his self-centredness, ruthlessness and snobbery - and those around him - his boss, the client, his hapless assistant.

Robert Bathurst does all the work onstage, not only playing Alex but providing the narration and the voices of all the animated characters, and he's fun to watch.

Running just over an hour, the show is modest in ambition and accomplishment, but will serve as a pleasant alternative to another evening in the pub or wine bar for both City types and those who like to laugh at them.

Gerald Berkowitz

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Review - Alex - Arts 2007