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The Miser (Manchester)

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
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At nearly 350 years old Moliere’s comedy The Miser remains a triumph of utter silliness and with this new production the Royal Exchange prove, once again, that they are an unstoppable force and by far the masters of outrageous farce.

Cleverly translated and adapted by Robert Cogo-Fawcett and Braham Murray from the original French text, The Miser is a hilarious satirical comedy relying heavily on the actors to deliver the text to its maximum potential.

Thankfully the Royal Exchange cast rise to the occasion working as a true ensemble in a slick choreography of scenes skilfully put together by director Helena Kaut-Howson. Her post modern concept is superbly realised by designer Ashley Martin-Davis in his deceptively simple but highly detailed set and costumes to match. The whole production feels as if it is a genuine period piece, yet is filled with modern references, props and costumes but at no point does this feel strange or wrong.

Royal Exchange favourite Derek Griffiths heads the talented cast as the rich money obsessed Miser of the title. His feisty children Cleante (Danny Lee Wynter) and Elise (Helen Bradbury) long to escape the paternal nest and marry their lovers but fate, money issues and a matchmaker called Frosine (Helen Atkinson Wood) intervene and like all good farces the road to a happy ending is littered with mis-understanding, overreaction, dodgy dealings and outrageous characters, all of which merge to create a truly enjoyable evening at the theatre.

It is short and snappy, particularly act 2, and doesn’t drag for a moment, which is a real credit to the director. If the Royal Exchange maintains this standard of production for the remainder of the season then it should, by far prove to be one of its best.

-Malcolm Wallace


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