If you think you have seen Molière’s comedy The Miser before, think again because for sure you will never have seen it like this. The Theatre Royal Bath played the lucky host to this splendid production prior to its West End transfer and there could be no-one more worthy of a West End run. Adapted by Sean Foley and Phil Porter, they have brought the play into the modern idiom without compromising any of the original content. Molière himself would have been happy to witness the rumbustious belly laughs and hearty enjoyment produced by today’s audience just as it would have in his time.
A stellar cast led by Griff Rhys Jones, Lee Mack and Mathew Horne, do the business and tell the tale of the miserly Harpagon, committed to protecting his fortune above all else meanwhile dashing the hopes of his son and daughter to make the love matches they desire, unless it makes him richer. His household consists of one multi-tasking servant, and a butler (who is not all he seems but has taken the position to be close to Harpagon’s beautiful daughter).
Griff Rhys Jones pulls out all the stops and uses his wealth of experience to pull in a performance as Harpagon, part panto, part farce with a little bit of long forgotten stand-up thrown in for good measure which is exactly right. I salute his energy and constitution for the physical execution and pin sharp timing for the comedy!
Lovable Lee Mack is the multi-tasking servant, Maître Jacques, the dirty underdog who gets all the sympathy and the laughs along with it, a world away from his usual genre but oh so funny. Mathew Horne takes the role of Valère, the butler/suitor of Harpagon’s daughter Elise, and he makes a cracking job of the part, as does Katy Wix as Elise.
Harpagon’s foppish son, Cléante, is played by Ryan Gage, glorious in frills and flounces and rather surprisingly frilly bloomers, he is every inch the dandy. In the role of Marianne, the beautiful young woman that both Harpagon and Cléante hope to marry, Ellie White turns her into a Home Counties gel with a perfect cut-glass accent with adds to the amusement. Saucy Frosine, a lady of dubious intent is marvellously played by Andi Osho, sashaying the stage in her wicked red dress and hat.
We really enjoyed this from start to finish and I can’t remember when I last laughed so much, the theatre was packed with standing room only and deservedly so – if you can’t catch this in Bath, it’s worth the trip to London.