Probably best known here as one half of the 1980’s NY cop duo Cagney & Lacey, award-winning American actress Tyne Daly follows her former television co-star Sharon Gless into the West End. She plays a far more famous (though much less sympathetic) character than the 66 year old academic in search of sex recently portrayed by Gless.
Daly takes on the role of the fêted soprano Maria Callas in her latter years when, in the early ‘70s (and having already given up her international singing career – either because her voice was already going or at the behest of her former lover, shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis who ditched her for Jackie Kennedy) she gave a series of masterclasses at the Juilliard school of music.
Despite its clunky dialogue, Stephen Wadsworth’s revival of Terrence McNally’s 1995 awkwardly constructed play has already been a hit on Broadway. But although one can admire the determination of the impoverished, overweight singer who reinvented herself as a svelte siren, it’s hard to find anything much to like about the intolerant, self-obsessed diva with a poisonously bitchy personality portrayed here.
Daly is imposing as she recalls past triumphs at La Scala and undermines the pupils who have come for advice. But it’s all very stagey, which makes the brief appearance of Garrett Sorenson’s portly student Anthony – bringing with him a much-needed touch of bonhomie and a glorious tenor voice – all the more welcome.
Vaudeville, Strand WC2R 0NH
Tube: Charing Cross
Until 28th April
– Louise Kingsley