The Miser (Manchester Royal Exchange, 26th September 2009)

I found The Miser at the Manchester Royal Exchange theatre very funny.  The audience became very involved throughout and there was a very humerous moment of audience interaction when Dame Claude, the maid servant,  starts to polish the audience members.   Derek Griffith’s played the Miser with wonderful timing and lots of energy.  The plot was straight forward and the production moved on at a fast pace with a short second half.    The ending was an ironic comments of those plots where revelations plays a big part.  Shakespeare’s The Comedy of Errors comes to mind.  The revelations are so unbelievable they became entertaining, rather than astonishing, and helped bring the play to a closure very quickly.  If felt like nothing was left undone.

In this production there  was a washed out sense about The Miser.   The set looks as if the house was being redecorated with plastic sheets straddled part of the auditorium.  The servants and the Miser  wore cream which made them look like crumbling sandstone statues who had had  a fight with a bag of four.   They also looked like decorators, which was probably the point.  The costumes were loosly based on the costumes from the period that the play was written, but also detracted from the period looking at times like the new romantics of the early eighties.  There was a sense that the events of the play might happen at any time and I am sure the audience were meant to feel that the play had a relevance to our own society.  The line that you can’t trust banks got a big laugh, and may be there was a feeling that converting wealth above other things was not to be admired.  It seems strange that Harpagon gets his money back, because we are used to seeing the baddies getting their comeuppance.  As Harpagon was left with his money at the end, it felt that the money isn’t that important to everyone else.    Love prevails in the end.  There was no sense of tragedy as in Shakespeare’s comedies, Harpagon’s punishment was to get wet as the water collected on the plastic sheet above him leaked over him.  This production was pure comedy and worked very well with this cast and in the setting of the Royal Exchange Theatre Manchester.

Reviews  and Previews

The Guardian on The Miser

Further Information

Manchester Royal Exchange http://www.royalexchangetheatre.org.uk/event.aspx?id=179

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