WORTH A LOOK?: ****
WHERE: Garrick Theatre
WHEN: 8/3 (matinee), press night 13/3, runs to 3/6
It’s Budget Day and we decide to see this comedy as cheaply as possible with a £20 restricted view ticket three rows back from the end of the stalls behind a pillar.
- Read on for reasons including why our £20 was well spent
The Miser was written by Molière in French in 1668 and is the story of the titular Harpagon (Griff Rhys Jones, particularly good when interacting naturally with the audience) who is a widower with a son, Cléante, and a daughter, Élise. Although over 60, he is attempting to arrange a marriage between himself and an attractive young woman. She and Cléante are already in love, however.
Elise (Katy Wix with a comedy speech impediment from TV’s Not Going Out), Harpagon’s daughter, is the beloved of Valère (the underused Mathew Horne from TV’s Gavin and Stacey), but her father hopes to marry her to a wealthy man of his choosing.
Adapted by Sean Foley (who also directs) and Phil Porter, there were elements of this farce which reminded us of Morecambe and Wise, which should perhaps be no surprise as Foley devised The Play What I Wrote, a tribute to the duo.
At the heart of all that is most funny is Lee Mack (who wrote Not Going Out), especially good during a section where he impersonates all of The Miser‘s employees by simply changing hats.
Foley and Porter’s script makes for especially apt viewing on Budget Day with its references to austerity and zero-hours contracts.
The way the Circle overhangs at the Garrick means the further back in the Stalls one sits, the less of the stage one can see. We reckon we lost about 50 per cent of our view of the entire stage (although we could almost always see the entire cast) and the pillar was only an occasional annoyance, predominantly during sight gags of which there were many.
Our £20 therefore was well spent and the laughs-per-minute in this show meant we would’ve happily opened our wallet even more.