The Miser – Garrick Theatre, London

Writer: Molière
Director: Sean Foley
Reviewer: Cavelle Leigh

This nearly 400-year-old play does all but disappoint. This adaptation of Molière’s comedy The Miser (or L’Avere) is indeed inspired from start to finish. Sean Foley, its director, is unafraid to adapt this piece and openly have fun with it.

While some enduring themes prove timeless, Foley is unafraid to alter the script topically for comedy effect, and proud of it. For this widely translated farcical comedy, much like a Shakespeare, has enduring and timeless archetypal themes; for example love, money, and greed that willl resonate as much today as indeed during its first performance in 1668.

The play opens with Lee Mack on form as Maître Jacques, with a joyous physicality and audience interaction he maintains throughout. Eagerly awaited bumbling protagonist Harpagon is played by Griff Rhys Jones, our name sake. A man so avariciously tight he cannot forsake his fortune not even for love. Katy Wix, is delightful as lispish Elise, as is Ryan Gage who plays her sibling, the camp and foppish Cléante.

A comedy of errors ensues as Harpagon tries to pair off his children for money, with no consideration for happiness. This play as witty as it is, should too be commended for its exaggerated visual humour. A particularly strong scene is that in which Harpagon tries in vain to preserve his fine wine, but inadvertently spills it over the place.

Amusing too and artfully not overdone was the inclusion of comedy and props such as a stage set falling apart due to Harpagon’s miserly upkeep, and perfectly timed musical interludes courtesy of Maître Jacques. Enjoyable, too, are his efforts to address and banter with the audience directly, drawing many a hearty laugh.

Mathew Horne is understated as Valère, an affable thogue feeble suitor to Elise, with Ellie White funny in her overly posh manner as the object of Cléante’s affection, Marianne. Andi Ohso gives an energetic and bold as brass performance as Frosine, who carries the plot forward with her scheming, and serves to unify its characters.

Most wonderful of all about this comedy, is the unmistakable pleasure apparent in the cast as they give it their everything, confidently playing it to perfection, often giving the impression of improvisation whether or not this is the case. Until the encore, the unashamed silliness of this production is infectious and so a theatrical joy not to be missed.

Runs until 3 June 2017 | Image: Contributed

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One Comment

  1. Dreadful – this was only the second time we have ever left a play in the interval – fine if you like panto and clunky topical references but we thought it a waste of a really good cast

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