Garrick Theatre, London – until 10 June 2017
I had high expectations for The Miser with a cast that boasts Griff Rhys Jones, Lee Mack and Mathew Horne. It promised to be full of wit and mirth but if anything by trying too hard it consequently fell short of the mark.
Molière’s classic comedy The Miser tells the story of a man who is fanatical about protecting his wealth. The paranoid Harpagon (Griff Rhys Jones) suspects all of trying to flinch his fortune and will go to any length to protect it. As true feelings and identities are revealed will Harpagon allow his children to follow their heart, or will his love of gold prove all-consuming?
There is absolutely no doubt in the ability of any one of this cast to provide an excellent performance. Lee Mack who is making his West End debut is effortless, as one would expect, with his comedy timing and delivery. Griff Rhys Jones who takes the lead exudes the leading man persona, wittily addressing the audience and acting up to great effect along with Mathew Horne. Equally entertaining were Ryan Gage (Cléante) whose pantomime cheesy persona was extremely fun. Along with Katy Wix (Elise) and Andi Osho (Frosine) who also gave laugh out loud performances.
Unfortunately for me whilst it was bountiful of witty slap-stick humour, this show on many occasions felt like it was just trying too hard. There wasn’t an obvious straight man for the comedy roles to play off each other. Everyone was vying for the biggest laughs. Therefore the structure seemed out of kilter. With the set disintegrating at every shut of the door. An exaggerated case of rhotacism and another with a lisp, there was just too much going on. Yes it made you laugh but in actual fact some respite would have been a refreshing break from the exhaustive nature of the play.
In summary, if you want an evening of continuous merriment and mirth with hysterically funny moments which requires no concentration, then this is the play for you. The cast are superb, but for me personally this is one play which is overdone. The talent within the cast and the piece itself made for enjoyment, should be enough. In fact it could learn from its title and been a bit more miserly in its delivery.