The Miser

Theatre, Comedy Garrick Theatre , Covent Garden Until Saturday June 3 2017
  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • 3 out of 5 stars
(6user reviews)
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 (© Helen Maybanks)
© Helen Maybanks

Lee Mack, Griff Rhys Jones and Mathew Horne

 (© Helen Maybanks)
© Helen Maybanks

Griff Rhys Jones, Lee Mack and Saikat Ahamed

 (© Helen Maybanks)
© Helen Maybanks

Andi Osho

 (© Helen Maybanks)
© Helen Maybanks

Andi Osho and Katy Wix

 (© Helen Maybanks)
© Helen Maybanks

Mathew Horne and Katy Wix

 (© Helen Maybanks)
© Helen Maybanks

Griff Rhys Jones, Katy Wix and Ryan Gage

 (© Helen Maybanks)
© Helen Maybanks

Ryan Gage and Griff Rhys Jones

 (© Helen Maybanks)
© Helen Maybanks

Griff Rhys Jones and Lee Mack star in this fun but overegged Molière update

‘Far too respectful’ is the charge writer-director Sean Foley levels against most revivals of seventeenth-century farceur Molière. Humour is an ever-evolving thing, and after 350-odd years even comic geniuses are in need of an update, right? So as a heads-up to any purists out there: don’t expect any reverence in ‘The Miser’, which Foley has co-adapted with Phil Porter. 

Given that the farce is essentially an ancestor of the sitcom, it seems appropriate that a roster of TV comic actors fill the cast. Griff Rhys Jones plays titular tight-arse Harpagon, who’s convinced everyone’s out to fleece him of his treasure. His daughter (Katy Wix) wants to marry the lowborn Valère (Mathew Horne of ‘Gavin & Stacey’); his foppish, spendthrift son (Ryan Gage) has designs on Marianne (Ellie White). Running around in the background is curmudgeonly dogsbody Jacques (stand-up Lee Mack, clearly relishing the Baldrick-esque part). 

Make no mistake, this is played for very broad laughs indeed. The fourth wall is dispensed with after about 30 seconds, the dialogue is peppered with topical anachronisms, and the gags involve falling plasterwork, scurrying rodents and boners in breeches. Beneath it all remains a stupendously fun story of stolen cashboxes, hurried weddings and long-lost relatives. Kudos to Jones and Horne in particular: they know to play it straight(ish) when Molière’s breakneck plot requires it of them. But unending jokes about payday loans and Sports Direct are often as distracting as amusing. 

It’s a reminder that there’s the finest of lines between enriching and compromising classic material. And okay, it’s all low-IQ stuff, but you’ll still be convulsing in your seat with laughter. And laughter was what Molière was in it for. He probably wouldn’t care about the liberties taken here.

By: Matt Breen


Venue name: Garrick Theatre
Address: 2 Charing Cross Rd
Transport: Leicester Square tube
Price: £15-£85. Runs 2hr 30min
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Average User Rating

2.8 / 5

Rating Breakdown

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1 person listening

Griff Rhys Jones was definitely the star here in a play that, frankly, had almost lost its moral tale and depended on strong acting and plenty of gags to entertain its audience.  In fact GRJ held the play together wonderfully.  The "plot" such as it was, took a while to get going, warming up sliqhtly towards the interval.  The emotional entanglements and comic misunderstandings were more fluid by the 2nd half and the cast more confidently able to inject comedy into their characters.  Rhys Jones has enormous stage presence and a wonderful speaking voice and at times interacted to great effect with the audience.  Matthew Horn and Andi Osho too, played their parts to perfection.  Lee Mack's gags were at times impeccable and some of his turns clever and hilarious - at other times rushed and ineffective. His voice does not project well on stage and many of his line were inaudible to me.  Farce is brilliant when done well.  It needs to be tight, well-honed and confident.  I saw flashes of this.  I would like to have seen more.

Carly-Ann Clements
Staff Writer

Could not have hated it more. There's definitely an audience for it but I couldn't have left quick enough. I left at intermission and if I had been sat on the aisle, I would have left before that. Cheap jokes, poor acting, barely any story to string it together.

Truda S

An awful pantomime. Ruined by terrible cheap gags. Aimed at drunk weekenders probably.

Nick W

This is very  much in the spirit of Moliere, in the sense that it is not faithful to the original text, but faithful to his playfulness. I think he would have approved. It's a lot of fun, with energetic performances from the cast.

Sophie C

Very slapstick production with a lot of extra gags sewn in around Moliere's already pretty ludicrous storyline. Went down well with some audience members and not others - several left at interval. Disappointing - really not my cup of tea.

Elspeth T

It's brilliant. I haven't laughed so much in ages. I could quite happily have watched the show for another hour.