Writer: Blake Morrison, adapted from Alain-René Lesage’s Turcaret
Music: Conrad Nelson
Director: Barrie Rutter
Choreographer: Beverley Norris-Edmunds
Reviewer: Sue Collier
This Northern Broadsides production is set in 1920’s Yorkshire. We are introduced to the once grand but now sparsely furnished and dilapidated home of the manipulative widow Rose. Rose is considering the merits of two men. Should she choose the dashing Arthur, a doctor’s son? Or would she be better off with the rich and generous widowed bank manager Algy Fuller?
The sense of the 1920s in this highly stylized production is represented via a beautiful wardrobe of costumes which is well complimented by hair and make-up contemporary to the era. Barrie Rutter plays the role of Algy and looks very dapper with his brilliantined hair and waxed upturned moustache.
Each character is introduced to the audience from stage right, via a musically precise hop, skip dance around the front of the stage accompanied by 1920s jazz music. Their cunning and flirtatious facial expressions during the use of this technique give hints to the audience regarding their individual personalities and underlying behaviours. This is a very interesting and effective technique which endears the audience to those characters.
Set in Yorkshire, this would not be a true Northern Broadsides production without specific attention being paid to dialect and specific vocabulary issues. In this, they are mostly successful and we are reintroduced to some lovely lost terms such as Chatter-Water (meaning Tea). There is, however, a tiny suspicion that not all the cast members are Yorkshire born and bred with some accents appearing fluid and natural and others rather forced. And at two hours in duration, this play seems a little lengthy, and during the first act especially, the story needs to move much faster than it actually does at this point.
Whilst this story is adapted from an eighteenth-century tale of greed it remains extremely current with amusing references to the UK banking industry. The part of wily widow Rose is played by Sarah-Jane Potts who is very convincing as the woman who encourages the advances of two morally corrupt men whilst trying to decide which one would make the better husband. Rose shamelessly milks Algy for her own financial gain. She is exploited by the young and dashingly handsome Arthur who takes from her all the money and possessions Algy has given her. What she sees as love rivalry turns into a tale of avarice, greed and deceit with each character, including the servants and those from the lower classes having an ulterior motive for self-gain. Will anyone prosper by the end of the play? The story ends charmingly with a delightful dance which enforces the mood of the era being represented.
Runs until Saturday 30 September 2017 | Image: Nobby Clark