THE DEVIL IS AN ASS
by Ben Jonson.
Rose Playhouse 56 Park Street SE1 9AR To 28 November 2015.
Tue-Sat 7.30pm Mat Sat 3pm.
Runs 1hr 30min No interval.
TICKETS: 020 7261 9565.
Review: William Russell 10 November.
Ably showing Fings are just like they used to be.
Ben Jonson’s comedy, written in 1616, involves a young devil called Pug, spiritedly done by Lewis Chandler, who persuades Satan to send him to London to do his master’s work and tempt men to commit evil.
The Devil thinks he is not up to the job and so it proves. Londoners need no tempting and the lad is soon out of his depth.
The action takes place at a time when there were witch hunts, which might have dated things hopelessly. But the things that happen in the social media of today show they are still alive and well, and the play still hits home.
Pug gets a job in the household of a vain and very foolish gentleman called Fitzdottrell, played to the hilt by Michael Watson-Gray, who has a lovely young wife whom he neglects and abuses – Beth Eyre, resisting all temptation.
Fitzdottrell is surrounded by assorted con men out to cheat him of his wealth and his wife, ranging from a dashing young blade called Wittipol, after the lady, to a thoroughly unscrupulous fraudster called Meercraft, after the cash.
Director Jenny Easton sends Jonson’s plot whirling briskly and, given the limitations of the theatre’s stage, she works wonders with a couple of scarlet sheets and four chairs to suggest the changes of scene.
Benjamin Garrrison hits the right high camp note for Meercraft, while Monty d’Inverno has a high old time as Wittipol and Wittipol disguised as a Spanish lady, part of the con on Fitzdottrell .
The cast double some of the roles with skill and the result is a thoroughly entertaining, albeit slightly potted, version of the play which does full justice to its assault on the society of the day.
Pug: Lewis Chandler.
Fitzdottrell: Michael Watson-Gray.
Wittipol: Monty d’Inverno.
Manly/Ambler: Nicholas Oliver.
Ingine/Lady Tailbush: Charlie Ryall.
Mistress Fitzdottrell: Beth Eyre.
Meercraft: Benjamin Garrison.
Everill/Sir Paul Eitherside: Stephen Good.
Director: Jenny Easton.
Designer/Graphics: Felix Trench.
Costume: Sarah Andrews.