Adapted by Sean Foley & Phil Porter
The Garrick Theatre, 2 Charing Cross Road, London WC2H 0HH to 1June 2017.
Mon-Sat 7.30pm Mat Wed & Sat 2.30pm.
Runs 2hr 30 mins One interval.
TICKETS: 0330 333 4811
Review: William Russell 14 March.
Moliere should sue
This travesty of L’Avare, the great French dramatist’s tale about the miser Harpagon who decides to marry his silly son to a rich widow and marry the heiress his son loves himself, has been updated, bowdlerised and generally destroyed by its adaptors.
The result is witless, coarse and relentlessly over performed – little or no acting takes place on stage so one cannot even say the cast ham it up – by all concerned. Griff Rhys Jones, returning to the West End after a six year gap, mugs his way throughout, appealing endlessly for the audiences affection, and creates no believable character. Only the stand up comedian and television sit com star Lee Mack, making his acting debut, manages to do what is required of him in a role created for him from a combination of all Harpagon’s servants.
He displays considerable skill in spite of being lumbered with some dreadful jokes, most of them even older than Moliere.
As for the rest Matthew Horne as Harpagon’s butler Valere, in love with Harpagon’s daughter Elise, has no stage presence at all, while Katy Wix, another stand up comic, as Elise needs to have a few elocution lessons. Her diction is incredibly sloppy and nothing she says is comprehensible no matter how loudly she says it, and this girl certainly can shout. Ryan Gage as Harpagon’s foppish son Cleante does Julian Clary and manages to be both camp and totally embarassing.
There are some jolly songs, however, which would be jollier if one could make out the lyrics, a lot of audience chatting up – the fourth wall is breached in a bid to woo support – and the sets are tatty beyond belief. Occasionally a show comes along that one should leave at the interval – not a luxury afforded critics – and this is one such show. A horror to go down in the annals of the West End it is on for a limited run which it will probably complete on the strength of those television “names” heading the cast. But given the price of a decent seat – and there are few of those in the Garrick which has possibly the worst sight lines in town – there are better uses for one’s money.
Harpagon: Griff Rhys Jones.
Maitre Jacques: Lee Mack.
Valere: Matthew Horne.
Elise: Katy Wix.
Cleante: Ryan Gage.
Frosine: Andi Osho.
La Fleche: Saikat Ahmed.
Maitre Simon’ Monsieur Anslme: Michael Webber.
Dame Claude: Simon Holmes.
Marianne: Ellie White.
Ensemble: Sabrina Carter; Ian Weichardt; Cameron Robertson.
Director: Sean Foley.
Set & Costume Designer: Alice Power.
Lighting Designer: Paul Keegan.
Music & Sound Design: Max & Ben Ringham.
Songs: Chris Larner.
Choreographer: Lizzi Gee.
Musical Director: Phil Bateman.
Assistant Director: Rosy Banham.