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Beau Brummell opened on May 9th 2006 at 59e59 Theater, New York to coincide with the launch of Kelly’s biography of Brummell and the Anglomania Fashion Exhibition at the Metropolitan Art Museum, New York.


This story of a man who is remembered for his clothes begins with the title character (Ian Kelly) stark naked. He is in the tub, holding a razor to his throat and threatening suicide, but he allows his valet, Austin (Ryan Early), to stop him... Mr. Kelly is extremely funny, engaging and intensely sympathetic as Brummell, tossing out grand observations (“Excess is the antithesis of style,” “How can one be lonely with a looking glass?”) as if to the manner born while conveying with aching pathos the quiet agonies of a ruined man trying not to see through his delusions.’

‘The dramatic engine that pushes this 90 minute play is a fit, assured Ian Kelly, a certified golden boy of a glittering age, cutting a debonair figure as Brummell. Easy but elegant in his manners, more cool than cruel in attitude, Kelly depicts the bon vivant to his fingertips. Ian Kelly brings out the faded glory of Beau Brummell’

‘As the legendary half-mad dandy, Ian Kelly -- who has written his own just-published biography, Beau Brummell: The Ultimate Man of Style – nakedly displays his rich endowment of talents in his first-rate portrait of the first gentleman of fashion. Not only does he emerge from Brummell’s bathtub au naturel, showing off an imposing physique and more skin than has been seen on the New York stage in some time, but he also gets way below the skin of this fascinating man, capturing the hauteur and self-confidence that remain despite his descent into madness. Though Kelly doesn’t offer the audience anything to eat, as he does in his other show in the festival, Cooking for Kings, he provides considerable food for thought about the fleeting nature of celebrity in his sharp characterization – not to mention considerable eye-candy. If Paris Hilton is smarter than she seems, she’ll come to see this show -- and then take up a useful trade pronto!’

‘Kelly, guided by Simon Green’s sensitive direction, turns the play about the debouched dandy into a moving testimony to friendship, pride and endurance…the result is a blending of scholarship and theater that is entertaining and enlightening in the best sense of both words. Even those whose interest in fashion is limited to what color T-shirt to wear with their jeans will find “Beau Brummell” fascinating.’

‘In Beau Brummell, part of the Brits Off Broadway festival at 59E59 Theaters, we first see Ian Kelly standing naked in a bathtub with a razor poised menacingly at his throat. For several reasons the image is certainly jaw-dropping and nicely symbolic: in this two-hander by Ron Hutchinson, the playwright seeks to portray a man stripped of the wondrous world of his own creation. The character is quixotic, unable to face reality, and bordering on madness, and Ian Kelly adds to this touches of the witty, the dashing, the poignant -- and certainly the interesting; the playwright does make a case for Brummell as the first celebrity: As Austin puts it, “What were you famous for? Just for being famous.” A further compelling picture of a modern hero by Ian Kelly -- yes, our same actor – is also available in the same Kelly’s biography: Beau Brummell: The Ultimate Man of Style’

‘Quick wit, gradual reveals, and terrific acting combine for an evening that is highly amusing. Lights rise on a hysterical, suicidal, and buck-naked Brummell finishing his bath. Ian Kelly, who has written a biography of Brummell, plays the man with precision. Kelly’s posture, the turn of his head, prove his character’s dictum, “Genius is in the wearing of clothes. To be dressed well, to say the right thing at the right time, that’s the nearest we ever get to the divine.” Kelly captures this belief and eyes the result of each additional garment in a full length mirror. He exudes dignity without ostentation.’

‘Considering that Brummell was celebrated for his clothes, it comes as something of a surprise that when the lights come up Ian Kelly, the excellent actor playing the title role is nude. If a mere two actors can be said to be giving an ‘ensemble’ performance the perfectly matched, flawlessly balanced duo composed of the sleek Kelly and rumpled Early gives solid claim to qualify; their skill and their timing combine to make Hutchinson’s concise play seem even briefer than it is…played expertly and movingly by Kelly’