The Miser

Theatre, Comedy Garrick Theatre , Covent Garden Monday April 24 2017 - Saturday June 3 2017
  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • 3 out of 5 stars
(13user reviews)
5 Love It
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 (© Helen Maybanks)
1/8
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Lee Mack, Griff Rhys Jones and Mathew Horne

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2/8
© Helen Maybanks

Griff Rhys Jones, Lee Mack and Saikat Ahamed

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Andi Osho

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4/8
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Andi Osho and Katy Wix

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5/8
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Mathew Horne and Katy Wix

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6/8
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Griff Rhys Jones, Katy Wix and Ryan Gage

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7/8
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Ryan Gage and Griff Rhys Jones

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8/8
© 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

Posted:

Venue name: Garrick Theatre
Contact:
Address: 2 Charing Cross Rd
London
WC2H 0HH
Transport: Leicester Square tube
Price: £15-£85. Runs 2hr 30min
Event website: http://www.nimaxtheatres.com/garrick-theatre/the_miser
To improve this listing email: feedback@timeout.com

Average User Rating

3.4 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:4
  • 4 star:2
  • 3 star:4
  • 2 star:1
  • 1 star:2
LiveReviews|13
1 person listening
James R

No doubt they went for broad humor on this production. I accepted that choice and went for the ride and at times I was convulsing in my seat. Left the show energized in a very positive way and decided to go back and see it again. Alas, business is calling me out of town and I had to put my tickets up for sale -- superb stall seats -- for a steep discount on StubHub for the May 9 performance. Good luck if you buy them. I definitely recommend this show. 

Martin H

Loved The Miser from start to finish. Really made me laugh and a perfect antidote to the troubling times we seem to be in at the moment. Beneath the hilarity and absurdness the acting is excellent. Don't be fooled by the miserly reviews in the press, this is an entertaining and welcome lark with genuine warmth from the cast. I'd gladly go and see this again.

Livvi AT
Tastemaker

Whilst this comedian-filled play at the Garrick Theatre won’t be scooping up any gongs, this fun, fast and downright ridiculous production of Moliere’s classic farce, The Miser, is an entertaining night which is full of laughs.

This production, although still set in Moliere’s time, brings farcical comedy into modern day. While the characters are wearing wigs and costumes in keeping of 17th Century France, witty modern references mean this play’s comedy transcends any boundaries of time.

Lee Mack, as the downtrodden servant, is stand out. Mack is just funny- whether it is the way he plays the harpsichord or his deadpan asides to the audience, Mack knows how to get a crowd laughing. The cast in general are strong, and maintain excellent energy right through to the end, particularly during the classic climactic scene which sees all characters and story lines come together in a confusing yet amusing conclusion. At some points, the humour seems a little forced; a repeated reference to a ‘banker’ sitting in the front row loses its glisten after the third, fourth and even fifth time.

However, if you are wanting a care-free, light-hearted night at the theatre, The Miser is definitely worth a visit. 

Liza F

Brimming with big belly laughs and good humour.  Lovely production with great performances from Griff Rhys Jones and Matthew Horne in particular. Not profound but then sometimes a good old fashioned laugh is exactly what you need. Certainly the much superior Moliere on stage at the moment. Don Juan down the road simply isn't funny and leaves a nasty taste, not a big smile. Go see this Moliere if you want some laughs.

Adrian H
Tastemaker

Lee Mack plays the straight man in this adaptation of Moliere’s The Miser that perhaps overplays the comedy and doesn’t quite get to the tragedy of the eponymous character’s obsession with money.


The farcical aspects of the play are well played – predictable physical comedy involving dropping detritus, flimsy seating and costume malfunctions get the laughs and are rather comforting in their silliness. But we perhaps lose the social criticism implicit in the play’s use of the working class as scapegoats for the greed and connivance of their masters.


Griff Rhys Jones is effective as Harpagon, and Matthew Horne is excellent as his servant, their well-judged performances all the more evident when set against the portrayal of his children – a hyperbolic fop and a drawling doll, and his intended – a thinly disguised caricature of an aspiring royal bride.


A fun and diverting evening but definitely have a couple of drinks to loosen up before you get there!

Thomas  C

We went on the time out offer and it was a great show, they don't take themselves ot seriously and is a good balance of good acting from GRJ in lead and comedy. 


I think for serious theatre boffs expecting a starchy adaption of Molière's work they will be leaving unfullfilled however the actors are open, are clearly having fun, and most importantly make sure you are too. Would highly recommend for a great night out for a great price. 

Michael F

Not entirely a success but not entirely a failure either. Farce is hard to get ight but there was enough in this bright and breezy adaptation to keep theatregoers amused. I liked that it didn't take itself too seriously. 3 stars seems just about right for me. Hadn't seen Griff Rhys Jones on stage before but thought he did a great job. If you want a laugh, recommended. I also saw the other Moliere adaptation currently on show, Don Juan in Soho, in previews last week. By way of contrast, The Miser was much better staged and acted and many more laughs. Don Juan is leaden, unfunny and pretentious. If you have to choose your Moliere, this is definitely the one.

MatureLinda

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.

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.

Carly-Ann Clements
0 of 1 found helpful
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
0 of 1 found helpful

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