THEATRE / Mauling Moliere: School for wives - Royal Lyceum Theatre
Tuesday 15 September 1992
At the opening of the second act, one of these gentlemen leads a spot of community singing in 'Daisy, Daisy', stretching the elasticity of the play so taut it snaps. And what is the coherence in having the protagonist, Arnold, speak lines worthy of an especially straitlaced elder of the Kirk in tones of a spiv who finds himself in charge of variety hall jollifications?
Between them, adapter Neil Bartlett and director Ian Wooldridge have engineered a production that is wholly at odds with the text, despite endless energy and even a range of strong performances. The inspiration involved will no doubt provide a good night out for those who want a panto romp and care nothing for the dilemmas, the pathos, or even the comedy of the original.
The characters are reduced to a gallery of bizarre grotesques who cavort and giggle under a grandiose set of cardboard drapes, with a painted backcloth featuring some of Edinburgh's classical monuments surrounding a Georgian doorway from the New Town. Tony Cownie (Alan) and Pauline Knowles (Georgette) tumble and grimace like the servants from a children's show, while Sharon Small as Arnold's future wife Agnes is allowed to bring to the character only the sugary sentiments of a gormless Cinderella.
Her suitor Horace (Paul Nivison) is a flannelled fool with the nous of a Bertie Wooster, and that leaves John Bett, as Arnold, stranded in the incongruous role of Master of Ceremonies. In that position, he orchestrates the piece, entering to the strains of a My Fair Lady number, executing a soft-shoe shuffle, exiting to a Harry Lauder refrain and all the time radiating the plastic charm of a thorough professional whose only care is to keep the punters giggling. The demands of that stance do not allow him to investigate the uncertainties or the misogyny of the role Moliere created.
Presumably Neil Bartlett's translation was in the Queen's English, but it has been ludicrously Scottified for comic effect by the insertion of the odd word in Lallans of a style your douce Edinburgh bourgeoise would never have employed. The production does as little for the use of Scots as it does for poor old Moliere.
Continues to 26 Sept. Box office: 031-229 9697
Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites
TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Planes go hybrid-electric in important step to greener flight
- 2 Christmas comes early to Hong Kong, as millions of bank notes spill out onto busy street
- 3 Antonio Martin shooting: Police and protesters clash over teenager's death just five miles from Ferguson, Missouri
- 4 Northern Lights above Britain: Stunning Aurora Borealis illuminates Northumberland sky on Christmas Eve
- 5 British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
Christmas Day TV guide 2014: What to watch from Strictly Come Dancing to the story of Frozen
Best underrated Christmas movies: From Trading Places to While You Were Sleeping
Game of Thrones season five: First preview clip shows a beardy Tyrion, a moody Cersei and a distressed Arya
The Interview is finally released after Sony hack and terror threats – but reviews of North Korea satire are mixed
Christmas TV guide 2014: The best shows to watch from Doctor Who to Downton Abbey
Nigel Farage defends Kerry Smith 'ch***y' comment: 'If you are going for a Chinese, what do you say you’re going for?'
British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
Rozanne Duncan: Ukip expels councillor for 'jaw-dropping' comments made in BBC TV interview
Germany anti-Islam protests: 17,000 march on Dresden against 'Islamification of the West'
Ukip member gets into Christmas spirit with Union Flag plea to Santa 'for our country back'
Panic Saturday: 13 million Britons spend £1.2bn – while 13 million others across the country live in poverty unable to afford food