The Marlborough Theatre is an absolutely charming venue with a cosy bar downstairs and the main theatre upstairs and it is perfect for small scale stage shows such as The Barefoot Players production of The Alchemist by Ben Jonson.
Transported to a setting in the 1920's, the revival of Jonson’s play, originally set in 1610-11, was very effectively represented in the somewhat less exotic setting of Brighton. Throughout the performance the character of Subtle Andy Mansell makes jokes at the expense of the new location and absolutely relishes the line "We are moving to Eastbourne - yes I know!" Worthing and the Pavilion Gardens are also specifically mentioned giving the piece a familiarity that would not have been there in the original setting.
The entire cast perform very well and their individual characters are all quirky, entertaining and funny in their own unique way. Noteworthy performances come from the shy Dapper Louis Osbourne, who is convinced to believe in fairies, and Pliant Eleanor Conlon, the housekeeper, who surprises us all with a little lesbian action!
Sir Epicure Mammon Greg Field made his superb performance look completely effortless and he seemed the most comfortable on stage as a few of the young cast seemed to be suffering from some opening night nerves. Almost falling off the table mid-line will not have helped Doll Iona Twiston-Davies either but, nonetheless, she recovered very well and carried on as the entire audience gasped.
The costume department positively excel in this production as, although fairly low budget, all are very creative, in-tune with the 1920's theme and, with the use of real cigarettes on stage, very effective at helping to create an authentic scene. Fascinators, top hats and waistcoats are all used, with the male cast members executing the look slightly more effectively than the female characters.
There are also some fantastically creative uses for the props, with one in particular - the frame of a window for peeking through so as to check who is knocking on the door - used very comically, with the whole audience laughing as they hadn't seen that one coming!
Unlike many Brighton Fringe shows, this is a full length piece lasting well over two hours, but the production is so enjoyable and engaging that the time flies by very quickly and, with an interval in which we can refresh ourselves and our glasses, everything works perfectly and we all have a fabulous night out.