‘Meers’ isn’t fuddy

LONDON — The early verdict on “Fuddy Meers” in London: David Lindsay-Abaire‘s play is not very fuddy — sorry, funny — at least according to the initial overnight reviews.

“Crossing the Atlantic, it seems to have left its baggage behind,” the Daily Mail’s Patrick Marmion wrote of the European preem May 25 of a show first seen Off Broadway in 1999 (apparently it has had some 200 productions since then).

But quantity doesn’t bespeak quality, or so said the Evening Standard’s Nicholas de Jongh of director Angus Jackson‘s production, which arrived at the Arts Theater with an Anglo-American cast after a run in Birmingham: “The only virtue of (this) aggressively boring farce is its almost instant forgettability. The play vanishes in a puff of triviality.”

“After two hours of punishing zaniness, laughter had long since curled up and died in my throat,” opined the Telegraph’s Charles Spencer. That left both the Times and the Guardian to award the play two stars out of five, with Michael Billington in the latter paper closing his review with the line: “Too many kooks spoil the broth.” (Of the first set of notices, the lone rave came from the Daily Express’ new recruit, Sheridan Morley.)

“Fuddy” has garnered more attention than it otherwise might have as the opening gambit of Sam Mendes‘ Scamp Film & Theater Ltd., the Oscar-winning director’s new producing venture, which has various partners on board for the West End run. Further ahead on Scamp’s plate: Katie Mitchell directing Stephen Dillane in “Macbeth,” as well as the Broadway-bound “Shrek, the Musical,” in partnership with DreamWorks.

Extended ‘Election’

Pieter-Dirk Uys has been bringing shows to London for nearly 20 years, but the South African actor-satirist has never played the West End. Until now. For one week (May 31-June 5), he will take his latest show, “Elections and Erections,” to the Duchess Theater, following hefty biz for the piece over three weeks at the fringe Soho Theater, one-third the Duchess’ size.

“You don’t close on Saturday night any more,” a delighted Uys told Variety May 26 of the newfound appeal of satire, crediting Cannes prize-winner Michael Moore for doing his bit to help shift perceptions. “(“Fahrenheit 911″) got people looking at satire and saying ‘Hello!’; they realize that satire can be a weapon of mass destruction — and distraction.”

A royal scandal

In 1987 Suzan Sylvester, then 26, won an Olivier for most promising newcomer for her performance as Catherine in a now-legendary revival of Arthur Miller‘s “A View From the Bridge,” starring Michael Gambon.

How nice, you might think — except that the evening wasn’t entirely. Receiving her prize from Prince Edward, Sylvester proceeded to correct the young royal’s pronunciation of her first name — it’s spoken like Suzanne, not Susan, in accordance with the Turkish spelling of the name, since Sylvester’s mother is from Turkey.

And then the furor began. “Afterwards, there was kind of like a hush and a laugh from the audience, with all these people thinking I’d snubbed royalty,” Sylvester recalls. “I got a lot of offers to go on TV and radio, but I didn’t, purely because it was about me correcting Prince Edward, and there’s only so much mileage you can get out of that.” (The prince was apparently deeply contrite.)

Did the event cost her work? “It might have done a little, but you don’t know, do you?” says the actress, now 43 and back in fine form in a three-character play, Darren Murphy‘s “Tabloid Caligula,” running at East London’s Arcola Theater through June 5. Playing the deeply scarred Mary, the lone woman in a world of casual machismo and swift brutality, Sylvester has lost none of her quicksilver theatrical intelligence and hard-bitten allure. The name may be Suzan, but it’s the talent that stands out.