Richmond Theatre, 22nd February 2017
Just catching up with this from a few weeks ago prior to the current West End run at the Garrick Theatre.
Now comedy is a tricky business to get right. Moliere’s tale with satirical and farcical forebears by way of Plautus and Italy has all the stock scenes you might wish for. The cast is definitely up for it with a performance of great energy from Griff Rhys Jones, a sardonic turn as multiple characters from Lee Mack on his “proper” theatrical debut and sterling support from the likes of Matthew Horne, Kathy Wix and Andi Osho (for me the best performance here) all off the telly.
And the whole thing is brought together by the go-to director to deliver sure fire comedy theatre in Sean Foley. LD and I really enjoyed The Painkiller which he directed as part of Branagh’s last London season though I think the playwright Francis Veber combined with perfect roles for the comedy talents of Branagh himself and Rob Brydon (anyone remember Future Conditional) made Foley’s job easier. Otherwise though whilst the whole family enjoyed The Ladykillers and SO and I tolerated Mad World My Masters, nether set our pulses racing.
So how was this Miser. Well enough gags and visual humour stuck to raise a few laughs but it all felt a bit laboured and obvious to be honest. Not unenjoyable but not memorable. I think the play has the capacity to offer a satirical insight in today’s world with Harpagon’s worship of money but this was more Mrs Browns Boys than Father Ted if you get my drift. The obvious can be subtle just not here. But like I say comedy on the stage is really tough. Oh for another Old Vic Noises Off.