THE ALCHEMIST, London, To 30 June

by Ben Jonson.

The Rose Playhouse to 30 June
56 Park Street, London SE1 9AR to 30 June 2016.
Tues-Sat 7.30pm. Mat Sun 3pm.
Runs 1hr 30 mins No interval.

TICKETS: 020 7361 9565
Review: William Russell 9 June.

Fast, furious and funny farce.

This is a whirlwind staging of Jonson’s great play about three con artists gulling the foolish, the vain, the innocent and the corrupt.

Director Jenny Eastop has cut it down to 90 minutes. The RSC version – due at the Barbican later this summer – runs for 2hr 45 mins. That too has been heavily edited and praised for getting down and dirty at speed. Jonson’s language can be hard on the ear, infinitely more so than Shakespeare, and does require a little help for modern audiences if they are to understand what is going on.

Eastop has come up with a fast and funny version with the minimum of props and aided and abetted by a good cast delivers the goods. The Alchemist remains a story for our times, a satire on what people will do motivated by greed because the victims are just as bad as the predators The con artists are still out there as are the gullible.

It is a case of when the cat’s away the mice come out to play. The butler Face, his master Lovewit being away, uses his house as the premises for the schemes which involve Subtle, fake alchemist, and Doll Common, a lady no better than she should be, promising the world to their assorted victims.

The trio – Peter Wicks as Face, Benjamin Garrison as Subtle, and Beth Eyre as Doll – are bursting with energy and there is good work from Jeremy Booth as a gloriously pompous Sir Epicure Mammon, a lascivious gentleman, and a splendid double from Monty d’Inverno as Dapper, a snivelling Scottish clerk, and Kastril, a short tempered lad with a sister to dispose of. But all the performances are good and the ensemble work is impeccable.

It may be pared down Jonson but the result does the play full justice; a treat.

Lovewit/ Drugger Clark Alexander.
Face: Peter Wicks.
Subtle: Benjamin Garrison.
Doll Common/Tribulation Wholesome: Beth Eyre.
Dapper/Kastril: Monty d’Inverno.
Sir Epicure Mammon: Heremy Booth.
Pertinax Surly: Alec Bennie.
Ananias/Dame Pliant: Charlie Ryall.

Director: Jenny Eastop.
Costumes: Sarah Andrews.
Stage Manager: Ricky McFadden.

2016-06-10 10:25:40

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