The Miser, Garrick Theatre, review: ‘Full throttle farce but gags feel relentless’
- Credit: Archant
Lee Mack’s Maitre Jacques smacks the audience between the eyes with cute, wry asides that break the fourth wall, but the relentlessness of the quips from all participants is an exhausting experience
The phrase “freely adapted” decorates the programme of Sean Foley and Phil Porter’s version of Moliere’s 350 year old comedy, like a caveat booming with a klaxon-like honk.
After all, the biggest challenge facing any revival is to ensure that archaic material rings true to a contemporary audience. Adaptors must drag the past kicking and screaming into the modern age in the hope that the satire and comedy hit home.
The titular Miser, Harpagon (a full-throttle Griff Rhys Jones), is a filthy - and filthily rich - old man who secretly stashes boxes of gold about his grounds under the paranoid (mis)apprehension that his son and daughter are dying to get their mitts on his lucre.
The pair in question, Elise (Katy Wix) and Cleante (Ryan Gage), are far more concerned with affairs of the heart, however, and couldn’t care less for the trappings of fortune.
You may also want to watch:
Intercut with conflicting objects of affection and the frugal motivations of their father, factions are pitted against one another in an ebullient, farcical menagerie. Lee Mack’s Maitre Jacques smacks the audience between the eyes with cute, wry asides that break the fourth wall, but the relentlessness of the quips from all participants is an exhausting experience. Particularly in the first half.
The gags shoot out like artillery fire in the hope that if you throw enough jokes, some will stick. To be fair, many do. Gage is brilliant, as is Rhys Jones. In fact, all the cast are on song, including Matthew Horne as Valere.
- 1 'Proper old Islington boozer' voted best pub by readers
- 2 Trevi Ristorante scoops prize with readers' votes
- 3 Kacem Mokrane: Islington man amongst seven charged with 2017 murder
- 4 Man in Highbury court charged with shooting gun in High Holborn
- 5 Dog Olympix 2021 raises more than £700 for a water fountain in Whittington Park
- 6 Mem and Laz Brasserie voted as readers' favourite restaurant
- 7 Aristocrat's daughter, 25, died unexpectedly after developing 'severe headache'
- 8 Spectrum to C5: How Clive Sinclair began the UK’s tech revolution from a house in Islington
- 9 Tony Eastlake: Man denies murder of ‘flower man of Islington’
- 10 'Islington drivers – you don't always need to overtake cyclists'
Whilst this Miser might not be the total misfire that some early reviews would have you believe, Porter and Foley’s folly is that Moliere’s work is too drawn out and, whilst this does engage pretty consistently, its appeal does begin to wane after its elongated wax. Rating: 3/5 stars