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REVIEW: THE ALCHEMIST

PUBLISHED: 16:49 08 September 2010 | UPDATED: 11:10 14 October 2010

Always believe in your soul. You have the power to know: you're indestructible. So think the greedy dupes in Ben Jonson's play, The Alchemist, now re-set in today's Hoxton

THE ALCHEMIST

Hoxton Hall, Hoxton Street, N1

GOLD! Always believe in your soul. You have the power to know: you're indestructible.

So think the greedy dupes in Ben Jonson's play, The Alchemist, now re-set in today's Hoxton, and drawn on stories from the local community.

"Our scene is London, 'cause we would make known, no country's mirth is better than our own." And what better period for a recreation than the era of instant celebrity?

Jacobean puritans transmute into Scientologists; a fop eager to quarrel becomes - hilariously - a toff wanting rap lessons; and the wealthy Spanish nobleman is now a Saudi prince, speaking comedy Arabic.

Best of all is Rose-Marie Christian's Danny, the con-woman and impersonator, who is by turns Peter Sellers-like Indian mad scientist, streetwise Croydon rapper, and hippy transcendentalist.

As the original play's characters were social caricatures, this was never going to be a deep exploration of the human condition, and the cast play it for laughs, fast and furious, until the return of Nick Whitley's Charlie Cottage, calls a halt to proceedings, as he swaggers in like some young Keith Allen.

Despite the Prologue's assertion that fortune favours fools, as with life the worst blaggers win out.

If you fancy an introduction to Jonson, an immorality tale, or just two hour's fun, this is well recommended.

- STEPHEN HEIDARI-ROBINSON


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