It’s a quarter to three in the morning.
Or nine AM.
In a dive like this, it’s whatever time you want it to be.
I scratch my chin, pondering this fact. My chin says five o’clock.
The basement bar’s moody and noir. Worn-leather sofas line the walls: worn, that is, like bustles, by dames with too-high hems and too-long legs; their low seats sunk below their knees to give the unsettling impression of a 30 denier spider lurking in the shadows. What light there is spills out from the doorway to the real world, the densely-populated bar, and an original Art Deco palm tree in polished brass that picked up an ivy wrap of fairy-lights when its wiring failed to make the grade, reflecting out of gilt-framed mirrors the size of the walls. Guilt-framed. Trapped within their reflection lies a wonderland of guys in tuxedos and dames in their it-ain’t-Sunday best; Sin City’s finest sinners out in force. ‘Course they are – The Rat Pack are in town.
But before we get to see Frankie, Sammy and Dean in the theatre upstairs, we’re treated to a little Marilyn, crooning to an accompanying upright of iridescent ivory in the only corner of the room not occupied by us shady customers, as we sip cocktails that took longer to mix than drink, despite the three-hand Herculean juggling act of the bartenders. Bravo.
Our drinks drunk, we drunks drag ourselves up to the auditorium, where a Big Band is already in full swing. Before long Mr Martin appears, wrenched from the bar in his monkey suit, to give us all a hit of his best-loved hits; soon joined by Messrs. Davis Jnr. and Sinatra, and a brace of charming chanteuses. The songs flow like liquid gold (or scotch), thanks largely to the consummate skill of band-leader, James Ball, conducting his charges with clockwork precision, synced to the second with the idiosyncratic whims of the Chairman of the Board and his compadres. The set feels as tight as it is loose, spiced with the rehearsed-spontaneity and inter-artist joshing that makes the Pack such an experience.
A fully-immersive experience.
The mix of sleaze and shine that is Fifties Vegas, of these tarnished stars, and of their repertoire of bitter-sweet songs, are blended like a well-mixed dirty Martini, and taste damn good.
Review by Craig Cameron-Fisher
Rat Pack Live
For the second year running, Hartshorn – Hook Productions brings its signature Edinburgh Festival sell-out show The Rat Pack – Live to the Arts Theatre for a stunning night of 1950s glitz and glamour.
Ol’ Blue Eyes is Back, 100 years after his birth, so come and revel in the world of Frank, Dean and Sammy live at the Arts as their legendary recordings are brought to life on stage in the most sophisticated evening of razor-sharp wit and silky-smooth swing you’ll see all year.
Frank Sinatra – Louis Hartshorn
Dean Martin – Kieran Sims
Sammy Davis Jr – Michael Duke
Whisky Sisters – Rachael Owens (brunette), Marie Wilson (blonde)
Director: Lily Howkins
Musical Director: James Robert Ball
Lighting Design: Richard Williamson
Producers: Louis Hartshorn and Brain Hook
Assistant Producers: Crystal Noll and Paul Vrides
Gala Night: Monday 19th October 2015
The Arts Theatre
GREAT NEWPORT STREET
LONDON, WC2H 7JB