A review by Vanessa Bunnfor EXTRA! EXTRA!



Star Productions Ltd in association with The Landor Theatre present


Flora the Red Menace


Music by John Kandor

Lyrics by Fred Ebb

Book by David Thompson

Based on the novel Love is Just Around the Corner by Lester Atwell

Originally adapted by George Abbot


Director and Design - Randy Smartnick

Musical Director - Aaron Clingham

Choreographer - Kate McPhee

Lighting Design – Sky Bembury


Landor Theatre


26 June - 14 July 2012



Flora Mezaros (Katy Baker) runs an artist collective in New York City in the grip of the Great Depression. Sassy and full of positivity, she takes other less confident artists under her wing and they share her studio while she foots the bill and they offer her what little they can. In such circumstances Flora finds a new recruit in the form of struggling designer, Harry (Steven Sparling). Bespectacled and befuddled Harry is socially, a rather hopeless fellow with a communist agenda. Still, he becomes the unlikely apple of Flora’s eye whilst they share a waiting room, hoping to have some of their designs considered by a large department store. Flora’s designs land her a role with the firm which pays twice the wage she was aiming for and she is concurrently convinced by Harry and an enthusiastic rendition of “Sign Here” to join the Communist Party.

Katy Baker is a tremendously beguiling Flora, and performs with marked candour and expression. Her voice is the linchpin in the vocal output from a talented, well arranged ensemble. Music is provided on-stage by musical director Aaron Clingham on piano, and Adam Storey on double bass. The wonderful score is performed by this duo with finesse and plentiful dashes of flair, reminding that sometimes, less really is more. Choreography is clever and cute in equal measure and the Landor stage space is often filled with coordinated pieces and jazz hands and cardboard love-hearts. The set is easily switched from park to studio, waiting room to street, with red bricked partitions signifying a multitude of locations.

A nine-strong cast fill the 26 roles in the production with qualified ease and their immersion in each part is convincing and unreserved. Kimberley Moses is particularly impressive in this regard, a perfect bitch, as secretary at a large department store and, conversely, sweetness and light as one half of aspiring dance duo Kenny (Greg Sheffield) and Maggie, based in Flora’s studio. The sense of community in Flora’s artist collective is as warming as her first Communist party meeting is staid and regimented. Instigator in chief, comrade Charlotte, (Ellen Verenieks) is the cold and calculated antithesis to Flora as a comically repellent and rapacious predator in her quest to make Harry her own.

As the show is centred on designers and particularly Flora, a fashion designer, clothes are fittingly important to the production and costume changes are plentiful. It is clear that costume designer Kate McPhee is also invested in the dance scenes as choreographer, for the costumes are clearly chosen with performance in mind - the gentlemen are well turned-out and the ladies dresses swing. As the story unfolds and Flora must make choices between love and ambition the audience watches intently, for Flora really is something.
Box Office: 020 7737 7276
Landor Theatre
70 Landor Road, Clapham North, London, SW9 9PH
Tickets: £18.00 / £15.00 Concessions



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