Saturday, 19 June, 1999

This Victorian play is a delightful comedy that concerns money, or rather lack of it! The story relates the effects money has on people and looks at how one is treated if one is rich, compared to if one is poor. The story centres on 'Alfred Evelyn', a poor young cousin to the Veseys. 'Alfred' is scorned by his uncle, 'Sir John Vesey' and other members of the family, that is until he is bequeathed a fortune! Then he finds that those that despised him are now falling over themselves to be his friend. To add to matters 'Sir John Vasey' is offering his daughter's hand in marriage, but 'Alfred' is in love with 'Clara', a companion of 'Lady Franklin'. The result is comical mayhem, with hypocrisy and morality chucked in!

This play is full of colourful characters brought to life by an experienced and very talented cast. The brilliant Simon Russell Beale, yet again, gives a superb performance. I have said this before, and I will say it again, he is a truly gifted actor, and will, I'm sure be recognised as one of Britain's greatest in time. His portrayal of the morally good-hearted 'Alfred' is magnificent and thoroughly entertaining. There is also a fine double act from Roger Allam, who is forever mourning his dead wife, and Patricia Hodge, the kind and nice Lady Franklin. Both actors produce a charming repartee. Denis Quilley is convincing and loveable as 'Sir John Vesey', a man who has a false reputation for wealth. There are many more fine performances from the likes of Victoria Hamilton as the tense and sensitive 'Clara', Clive Rowe, Simon Day, Sophie Okenedo, and although he had a very small part, Michael Bryant.

The show has received fair reviews from the popular press: DOMINIC CAVENDISH of TIME OUT says, "Some of the sentiments behind 'Money' may have depreciated in value over the years, but this production valiantly proves its enduring comic richness." PETER HEPPLE of THE STAGE says, "The satire may be fairly obvious but it is elegantly carried out. However, its chief joy is the excellence of the acting, with Simon Russell Beale giving another fine performance as Alfred." BENEDICT NIGHTINGALE of THE TIMES says, "Fine cast outshines an old tale." NICHOLAS DE JONGH of THE EVENING STANDARD describes the play as "Endearing fun".

The show does suffer for being a little too long, 3 hours, but there are still many super scenes to keep you interested throughout.

MONEY is an average comedy made good by a smashing cast.

(Darren Dalglish)

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