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'The Bodyguard' review: 'A ridiculously fun night out'

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You know the story. One spoiled diva. A top-notch no-nonsense bodyguard. A wee kiddie at risk. A letter-writing psycho and jealous sister in the wings. The late Whitney Houston is as well-remembered for classic 1992 movie The Bodyguard and that Dolly Parton cover as she is for her string of chart toppers.

Opening last year, Alexander Dinelaris's adaptation has gone method in hiring a singer, rather than actress, in the lead role in this new cast. Whatever reservations you might have about her acting, you know you've got a safe set of vocal cords with Beverley Knight. Predictably, it's the singing that keeps The Bodyguard afloat whenever you might waver.

Tristan Gemmill (Frank Farmer) and Beverley Knight (Rachel Marron) Curtain Call, The Bodyguard.

© Dan Wooller

Tristan Gemmill and Beverley Knight


> Beverley Knight on The Bodyguard: 'It's not a Whitney Houston tribute'

An opening X Factor wall of stats and some mobile phones are the only updating the story gets, but to be honest that's all it needs. A man and woman rubbing each other up the wrong way until they rub each other up the right way is older than Shakespeare.

If you've seen the movie, and most will have, then it's easy to keep up with what's going on despite emotions flitting from hate to love to hate to love in a blink. Even if you've not, you can work it out without too much bother.

Tristan Gemmill's Frank Farmer is played like Dick Tracy with '90s video game dialogue. The stage is nicely set in a film noir style, and Gemmill especially acts up to the atmosphere with obvious relish. It's a little bit naughty ("What's gotten into her?" "Her bodyguard") and a lot silly.



This is a production where the unnamed stalker (Michael Rouse) gets booed during the bows. He'd previously received something akin to a hushed whistle when baring his (admittedly AMAZING) abs as he ripped Rachel Marron's stolen dress in half in a scene that's half-menace, half-Monty.

It's actually quite smartly staged, without going overboard. Effective lighting, simple moving borders and a clever use of screens (a particularly clumsy juxtaposition of our leads towards the end aside) do as much to maintain the drama as the acting.

Many of the musical numbers, whether originally in the film or not, are nicely contextualised as in-play gigs. This helps as Knight often, understandably, slips into Live Performance Mode, rather than acting the songs. Given the wine 'n' whooping vibe of the night, it's not a problem.

'How Will I Know', 'Queen of the Night', 'I'm Every Woman', a sensibly re-ordered 'I Have Nothing' just before the interval, an out-of-character encore of 'I Wanna Dance With Somebody' and two renditions of 'I Will Always Love You' - the first a comic highlight we certainly won't ruin - make this musical a perfectly-framed jukebox.

Let's not deceive ourselves. The Bodyguard is utterly barmy. It's a puff of absurd nonsense. It's very, very silly. The American accents... aren't fantastic. Some of the acting is more Ken and Barbie than Kev and Whitney. But everything somehow comes together for a ridiculously fun night out.

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