Saturday, 19 October, 1996

Directed by Bill Alexander, this is a very disappointing comedy indeed. I quite like the set design, which although serving no real purpose, is very original. A lot of the set seemed to be made up of car parts, tin baths and other strange things. The acting is of the highest calibre, and the story was a good idea. Trouble was, it was not funny at all and the dialogue made no sense most of the time. I kept struggling to understand what was happening with some of the con tricks. The patrons did not responded too well either, so I was not by myself in finding this comedy dull. Nevertheless there were some load laughter from the audience, but not much.

The acting is superb. All the characters were convincing, but the quality acting comes from the main three players. Simon Callow is fantastic as Face, the butler. His disguises and the different accents are a dream. What great talent he has. Then there is Josie Lawrence, who recently starred as Katherine in 'The Taming of the Shrew' for the RSC. She played the part of Doll Common, who uses her body to help make some of the cons work. She was simply brilliant! Then there is Tim Pigott-Smith who played The Alchemist, he too performed exceptionally well, but then I've always liked his acting.

This was a strange evening for me. I could not help thinking wow, what great acting I was seeing and at the time thinking what an awful play! I'm afraid the dreadfulness of the play outweighed the great acting and at over 3 hours long I found it very hard to keep awake.

(Darren Dalglish)

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