‘Impossible not to appreciate it on most levels’: THE COUNTRY WIFE – Chichester

In Opinion, Plays, Regional theatre, Reviews by Ian FosterLeave a Comment

Minerva Theatre, Chichester – until 7 July 2018

How many productions does it take for a playwright to have a moment? We could be on the cusp of a William Wycherley wave, with the second production of The Country Wife to arrive this year (the first being at the Southwark Playhouse in April).

But though this Restoration writer is proving popular, directors seem unable not to tinker with his work – that production was set in the 1920s and Jonathan Munby here moves it even further to the present day, casting new light but also dimming its intent.

The main pleasure here comes in a cracking cast. Susannah Fielding and Lex Shrapnel, Belinda Lang and John Hodgkinson, Ashley Zhangazha and Jo Herbert, talent literally abounds here and it is impossible not to appreciate it on most levels.

But the updating makes little real sense for a modern London, even as its misogyny still has a soul-wearying resonance. Munby pushes his company to an overly loud, broad and bawdy style which never convinces and if anything, harks back to 1675 that was abandoned in the relocation.

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Ian Foster
Since 2003, Ian Foster has been writing reviews of plays, sometimes with a critical element, on his blog Ought to Be Clowns, which has been listed as one of the UK's Top Ten Theatre Blogs by Lastminute.com, Vuelio and Superbreak. He averages more than 350+ shows a year. He says: "Call me a reviewer, a critic or a blogger, and you will apparently put someone or other's nose out of joint! So take it or leave it, essentially this is my theatrical diary, recording everything I go to see at the theatre in London and beyond, and venturing a little into the worlds of music and film/TV where theatrical connections can be made."
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Ian Foster on FacebookIan Foster on Twitter
Ian Foster
Since 2003, Ian Foster has been writing reviews of plays, sometimes with a critical element, on his blog Ought to Be Clowns, which has been listed as one of the UK's Top Ten Theatre Blogs by Lastminute.com, Vuelio and Superbreak. He averages more than 350+ shows a year. He says: "Call me a reviewer, a critic or a blogger, and you will apparently put someone or other's nose out of joint! So take it or leave it, essentially this is my theatrical diary, recording everything I go to see at the theatre in London and beyond, and venturing a little into the worlds of music and film/TV where theatrical connections can be made."