by Ben Jonson.
Brockley Jack Studio 410 Brockley Road SE4 2DH To 17 October 2015.
Runs 2hr 15min One interval.
TICKETS: 0333 666 3366.
Review: William Russell 30 September.
A seventeenth century tale of deceit, greed and corruption which still rings true.
Ben Jonson’s tale of greed and swindlers is still very much a play for today. It is set in Venice in a society where the avaricious will stoop to anything – bankers somehow or other spring to mind, as do international corporations, notably car manufacturers.
But the sub plot of some tourists being gulled does rather get in the way of the main story of how the wealthy Volpone and his sidekick Mosca con three greedy would-be heirs of their money by pretending Volpone is at death’s door. They believe he will leave one of them his wealth.
Cecilia Dorland’s production sets the action somewhere non-specific in time but probably the 1920s, and is blessed with three terrific performances as the greedy hangers-on from Rupert Bates as the bent advocate Voltore, Fraser Wilson as the doddery parent, Corbaccio, and Martin Prest as a wide-boy Corvino who is willing to prostitute his wife in order to get his hands on Volpone’s money.
Pip Brignall’s Mosca is suitably slimy as he deceives everyone, including his master, about his intentions and Steve Hope-Wynne makes a persuasive Volpone, although he misses the ruthless nastiness of the man.
All these people deserve one another except, for Celia, the hapless wife, a persuasively distressed Siobhan Gerrard, and the disowned son, Bionario, played with style by Joshua Pugh.
Cecilia Dorland has opted to do it in a comic-strip fashion, which works very well, but the sub-plot involving Sir Politic Would-Be, a visiting English tourist, and his greedy wife, played by Edward Fisher as a fugitive from the Bullingdon Club, and Ava Amande as a slightly over-the-hill flapper, does hinder things. He gets involved in a scam that is never quite clear while she pursues Volpone. The jolly dancing which opens and closes the play, while clearly intended in the first instance to set the scene of a rich, dissolute class misbehaving, goes on far too long.
This is a good, no-frills version of the play, however, happily shorter than some because Volpone can go on – and well worth seeing.
Volpone: Steve Hope-Wynne.
Mosca: Pip Brignall.
Voltore: Rupert Bates.
Corbaccio: Fraser Wilson.
Corvino/Mercatore: Martin Prest.
Sir Politic Would-Be: Edward Fisher.
Sir Peregrine: Jack Christie.
Celia: Siobhan Gerrard.
Bonario: Joshua Pugh.
Lady Would-Be: Ava Aamande.
Lady Would-Be’s Maid/Avacatore: Anna Buckland.
Director: Cecilia Dorland.
Lighting: Nathalie Gunzle.
Sound: Penny Rischmiller, Nathalie Gunzle.
Composer: Jean-Philippe Martinez.
Costume: Penny Rischmiller.
Choreographer: Darren Royton.
Costume: Penny Rischmiller.