Review: Alfie

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Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough

We all know Alfie. The Michael Caine movie made sure of that even if you haven’t seen it, so iconic was the actor’s performance that the lovable rogueish Cockney character has passed into popular culture. Except that’s not really Alfie at all.

Bill Naughton’s exceptional piece of work is a morality tale with a man at the centre of it who thinks he’s lovable, but who the whole world can see is on a train track to loneliness and is, essentially, a bit of a berk.

To make an audience enjoy spending as much time with the character as they do in this production, in which David Ricardo-Pearce is barely off the stage for the two-and-a-half-hours, you’ve got to pull off some impressive acting work. Which he manages in abundance.

Most of the time we don’t like Alfie. It’s horrendous when he’s describing women as ‘it’, it’s toe cringing when he sleeps with a friend’s wife and it’s horrific when he hits a woman.

What is virtually miraculous is that Ricardo-Pearce manages to make him seem entirely human. A deeply flawed human, but human all the same. The episodic story flies by – nine months pass in what seems like only a few seconds, and Alfie never seems to learn or grow – until the very end.

The episodic story-telling, with women flitting in and out of Alfie’s life, could make for a fleeting connection with a character, but it is down to a brave piece of acting that we always feel like we are with Alfie on a journey.

And a surprising one.

To Mar 31.