Singing conmen, audience participation and the odd impression (including a Steptoe and Son-alike) during the first half of Greg
Hersov's playful production of Volpone only serve to highlight the modern relevance of this
play, written in 1606.
The theme of greed strikes you as you enter the round via Lez
Brotherston's beautiful set design complete with water, statues and gold.
Enter Volpone, (Gerard Murphy), the fox - a corrupt conman who enjoys
fooling folk into parting with their cash. With his team of players and sidekick,
Mosca (Stephen Noonan) he feigns illness so they will vie to be his sole
heir. Charlatans and crooks queue up like lambs to the slaughter, lured into
this money trap.
As Volpone becomes more adept at 'the con' his greed turns to lust and his
attention moves to the beautiful but unwilling Celia (Miranda Colchester),
enabling the audience to explore the blacker aspects of Ben Johnson's
Murphy strides onto the stage and oozes confidence as the millionaire
trickster. But it is Noonan who steals the show as the malevolent Mosca with his
array of disguises in accent and movement. Sarah Desmond, Tom Godwin
and Dominic Burgess are the all singing, all dancing, troupe and
invest their roles with so much mischief and humour that you cannot fail to
be entertained by their many gags.
The joy of this production is the sheer energy of Hersov's direction. He
has the actors climbing balconies, dancing, singing, running and even
has Volpone in a motorised wheelchair! The performers rise to this challenge
and gamely involve the audience at every opportunity with relish.
During some scenes there is too much happening at once, but the
confident cast carry these flaws and like the fox himself, turn them into
gold. At times purists may cringe at the inclusion of the odd modern accent,
comedy nun or nurse's outfit but, on the night I went, the audience enjoyed
themselves and were buzzing with anticipation by the time that act two
There are serious themes explored here such as greed and lust but instead of
hammering the audience over the head with a textbook version of divine
decadence, Hersov's main aim is to provide us with a zany,
sometimes dark but always accessible, fun evening out and he achieves that