The Internet Theater Magazine of Reviews, Features, Annotated Listings








Etcetera and
Short Term Listings


NYC Restaurants


New Jersey







Free Updates
Writing for Us
A CurtainUp London London Review
Dear Lupin

"I found Yoko Ono about as erotic as a sack od dead ferrets. " — Roger Mortimer
Dear Lupin
James Fox as Roger Mortimer and Jack Fox as Charlie Mortimer (Photo: Manuel Harlan)
Father and son actors, James and Jack Fox star in this delightfully witty and bitter sweet comedy about a racing journalist father's words of advice to his wayward son over two and a half decades. The letters were published by his son Charlie, 21 years after the death of Roger Mortimer (James Fox), the Sunday Times horse racing correspondent. Actor, author, columnist and wit, Michael Simkins has adapted the book for the stage with a lightness of touch.

I call this comedy bitter sweet because Mortimer junior would be the despair of most parents. Withdrawn from Eton, England's most expensive and foremost public school and failing to achieve even the first qualification, taken at 15, in Maths, the boy spirals down on a road strewn with drugs and unconventionality. The play recounts his scrapes and escapades.

What makes Dear Lupin exceptional is the tolerance and humour of the elder Mortimer as he patiently tries to stop his son losing his footing on the path of life. The nicknames he gives to all his family are endearing but maybe also annoying as Louise his younger daughter is called Lumpy. His wife is referred to as Nidnod, she with the wig askew and a partiality for a drink or three. Lupin comes about after the name of the disastrous son of Mr Pooter in George and Weedon Grossmith's Victorian spoof, The Diary of A Nobody.

For a double hander, the direction also infuses variety as both actors act out other characters with the aid of a selection of props found onstage in Adrian Linford's jumbled and detailed set. The play opens with a mock version of the Mastermind televised quiz to set up the dramatis personae. We cut from Charles' birth to 1967 when he is at Eton and both men dance to the famous Eton Boating Song.

Charlie Mortimer's chequered career from a dalliance with drugs and resulting liver disease to a gay lifestyle and HIV would bring the most tolerant parent to his knees but Roger Mortimer views all through glasses tinted with humanity and good common sense, without ever resorting to exasperation or berating the boy for his shortcomings. We see Charlie's flirtation with a gap style life, driving across Europe, dabbling in antiques and joining the army as a squaddie, after a conviction for possession of cannabis and a weapon, puts paid to officer cadet entry. Is the father in denial about his son's misdemeanours or does he truly love his son? It is good to know that Charlie is now 73 outliving all expectation!

Michael Simkins' adaptation has plenty of physicality in the staging because, as an actor - writer, he knows what is needed for the audience not to tire of two characters. We see elder Fox in a cameo of General Montgomery, rescuing Charlie and another schoolboy, Monty's godson, from being sacked at Eton. This after being caught making a trip to a elderly prostitute (again James Fox). Philip Franks directs what I assume must be a happy company and short of theatrical ego.

James Fox's kaleidoscope of multiple characters remind how great an actor this elder Fox is. Jack Fox is still a fledgling actor but this is a creditable and promising performance. The fact that both actors are father and son brings a special chemistry to their performance.

I find it rather sad that the advent of email and text messaging has reduced the contents of my letter box to franked mail, bills, catalogues and circulars and long for the delight of opening a hand written letter. The three books by Roger Mortimer and his children, the best selling Dear Lupin, and Dearest Jane and Dear Lumpy, are a glimpse of the bygone age of letter writing with wit by an English eccentric and a pleasure with which to while away the hours.

I suspect many who have seen the play will want to relive it by reading the book.

Subscribe to our FREE email updates with a note from editor Elyse Sommer about additions to the website -- with main page hot links to the latest features posted at our numerous locations. To subscribe, E-mail:
put SUBSCRIBE CURTAINUP EMAIL UPDATE in the subject line and your full name and email address in the body of the message -- if you can spare a minute, tell us how you came to Curtain Up and from what part of the country.
Dear Lupin
Written by Roger Mortimer and Charlie Mortimer
Adapted by Michael Simkins
Directed by Philip Franks

Starring : James Fox and Jack Fox
Designer: Adrian Linford
Lighting: Johanna Town
Composer and Sound Design: Matthew Bugg
Choreographer: Simeon John-Wake
Running time: Two hours 5 minutes with an interval
Box Office 0844 579 1971
Booking to 19th September 2015
Reviewed by Lizzie Loveridge based on 4th August 2015 performance at the Apollo, Shaftesbury Avenue, London W1D 7ES (Tube: Piccadilly Circus)
Highlight one of the responses below and click "copy" or"CTRL+C"
  • I agree with the review of Dear Lupin
  • I disagree with the review of Dear Lupin
  • The review made me eager to see Dear Lupin
Click on the address link E-mail:
Paste the highlighted text into the subject line (CTRL+ V):

Feel free to add detailed comments in the body of the email . . . also the names and emails of any friends to whom you'd like us to forward a copy of this review.

London Theatre Walks

Peter Ackroyd's  History of London: The Biography

London Sketchbook

tales from shakespeare
Retold by Tina Packer of Shakespeare & Co.
Click image to buy.
Our Review

©Copyright 2015, Elyse Sommer.
Information from this site may not be reproduced in print or online without specific permission from