Review: Casanova the Carol Ann Duffy way

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Casanova, the famous author and bon vivant, claimed to have bedded a woman in every European city.

So it is no surprise that in this modern age of sex and sleaze, he is experiencing something of a revival.

First, the BBC adaptation of his life starring a geeky David Tennant; now, the play written by controversial poet Carol Ann Duffy.

In this production by Told by an Idiot, Casanova is a woman who is imprisoned in Venice after a hilarious and acrobatic romp with a German monk.

She escapes from prison and flees to Paris, where she finds a sugar daddy in an elderly transgender Everyman.

Casanova betrays his trust by dallying with the cute but sexually naïve kitchen boy, and moves on again to England before she is caught by the looming shadow of a Venetian detective, mixing with the likes of Voltaire and Mozart along the way.

Men, women and even animals fall in love with Casanova, and although Hayley Carmichael is charming, the reasons for her magnetic wiles are not fully explained to the audience.

The Galliano-inspired extravagant costumes add to the beauty of this sometimes surreal production, as do the many languages.

Carol Ann Duffy’s distinctive prose sweats through the dialogue and narrative.

Disappointingly, Casanova’s experience is not much changed by the difference in her gender, apart from her mistake of a pregnancy (a plot twist that feels lazy and obvious).

Although the play can be amusing, there is no real depth, and the audience fail to make any real emotional attachment to fickle Casanova.

Keep your eyes peeled for the inevitable Casanova! The Musical, starring Russell Brand as Casanova and Stephen Fry as Voltaire. You heard it here first.

Casanova is running at the Lyric Hammersmith in London until 24 November.