Another reliable season at The Royal Exchange is set to continue with Pete Postlethwaite starring in The Tempest. It's just a pity that for now it has stalled with overblown and clumsy farce The Triumph of Love.
On paper this tale of cross-dressing and gender confusion in the name of love might have sounded like a good idea that would appeal to lovers of Shakespeare, but The Triumph of Love is badly executed and ultimately rather dull.
Things start going wrong from the very beginning when one character engages in an overflow of plot exposition reminiscent of Star Trek dialogue.
Princess Leonida (Rae Hendrie) disguises herself as a man to woo her true love, inevitably causing various admirers to fall for her masculine and feminine appearances.
As the energetic liar, Hendrie does an above average job but her mugging and shrieking soon irritate. Brigit Forsyth does a sterling job as Leontina but she deserves a better play.
Simon Higlett's set resembles an indoor B&Q show-garden rather than the setting for deceit on a grand scale.
Throughout there are many unintentionally funny lines and the plot is difficult to follow. When one character shouts "What is happening?", you are left thinking, “Quite!”
Marivaux's farce was first seen in 1730 and was recently turned into an unmemorable film starring Mira Sorvino and Ben Kingsley. It has also been unsuccessfully produced as a Broadway musical, leaving one to wonder what director Braham Murray saw in the piece.
Murray, who can usually direct good farce in his sleep, seems to have lost his golden touch with The Triumph of Love, which is filled with plenty of movement but little emotion. With phallic symbols, flapping arms and lots of screaming, if it wasn't at the Royal Exchange you might expect the play’s title to be Carry On Cross-Dressing.
This piece is too unfunny and dated to justify leaving the house.