Thursday, 26 April 2018

Sparkling version of classic comedy

There can be few better opportunities for a young actor than appearing in a new version of a Molière classic

There can be few better opportunities for a young actor than appearing in a new version of a Molière classic comedy at one of the most prestigious regional theatres in the country.

And the cast of The Miser in Martin Sherman’s sparkling new version currently playing at the Watermill in Bagnor are certainly throwing themselves into their roles with enthusiasm and panache.

In typical Molière style the plot shows clear touches of the archetypical commedia dell’arte figures, and revolves around the middle-aged miser Harpagon (Alex Mann) whose entire life concerns his money, which he conceals in a hidden cash box that he checks and gloats over endlessly.

All his household are affected by his unnatural obsession, but the chief victims are his son Cléante (Ben Ashton) and daughter Élise (Helen Sorren), who he intends to make money out of by advantageous marriages. But unbeknown to him, they have each fallen in love, and the fun starts when they begin to plot against him to take control of their own futures.

Cléante’s plans are greatly complicated when he discovers that he and his father are rivals in love over the peerless Marianne (Charlie Russell) and each tries to outwit the other to gain both the money and the girl.

Elise, meanwhile, is in love with Valère (Daniel Wilde), who having saved her from drowning, has taken the job of her father’s steward just to be near her.

Wilde excelled in this role, drawing our every sympathy for his character, and was only out-acted by himself doubling as the likeable Le Flèche, of whom we didn’t see nearly enough.

And so warm was the audience’s reaction to Frosine the marriage broker as played by Eliza Collings that had the part been turned into a one-woman-show for her they doubtless would have been delighted.

The production is imbued with the influence of director Nancy Meckler, who has a long history running Shared Experience Theatre.

Clowning and movement training is most apparent in delightfully executed little between-scene vignettes supplied by the members of Harpagon’s household. Music is by Keith Clouston and the extraordinary costumes are by Ellen Parry.

The Miser runs until May 18. For tickets call the box office on 01635 46044 or visit www.watermill.org.uk

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The Miser,

The Watermill Theatre, Bagnor, near Newbury

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