REVIEW: High Society, Mayflower Theatre, Southampton

High Society isn’t in the premiership of musicals. It’s more mid-table championship.

But a sparkling cast do their very best to make it sparkle this week (until May 11) at Southampton’s Mayflower in a production that justifies the revival.

Michael Praed excels as the raffish ex who turns up hoping to reclaim his socialite former wife Tracy Lord (Sophie Bould)

on the day she’s seemingly determined to marry a total dullard (Keiron Crook).

But the fun comes from Teddy Kempner as boozy skirt-chaser Uncle Willie and the impressive 17-year-old newcomer Katie Lee as Dinah Lord, the good-heartedly meddlesome kid sister who knows instinctively that big sis is on the verge of a big mistake.

There is a little bit of over-fussiness in the direction; far too often we seems to be watching the household staff shoving doors on casters around rather pointlessly.

But the main trouble with the show - even though Bould gives a charming, skilled and beautiful performance - is that it’s all too easy to be left rather cold by the character of Tracy Lord, an overprivileged gal vainly in search of a perfection she’s never going to get.

Of course, the musical is all about her path towards the realisation of the happiness that right there for the taking if only she’d realise it, but there are times when the path seems excessively long and winding. Smiling at the fatuousness of the upper classes is really enough.

There’s no doubting this is a first-rate production and the cast have done all that they possibly could, but it’s difficult to escape the feeling that they’re flogging a horse which is rather past its best.

Phil Hewitt