The Knight of the Burning Pestle, Barbican, London

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The Independent Culture

Francis Beaumont's 1607 burlesque might seem funnier and more radical if it weren't so cluelessly directed by Anna Mackmin. Two plays are zanily jostling here as a shopkeeper (Felix Dexter) objects, from the front row, to a merchant-mocking comic romance and insists his apprentice Rafe join in , play a grocer-going-on-knight errant.

It's something like A Midsummer Night's Dream crossed with Don Quixote, but the writing is scrappy and Mackmin's production is a lame sub-panto shambles. Beaumont's class satire and literary allusions are rendered more obscure by a jumble of Renaissance and modern costumes, with Rafe Spall's yobbish Rafe lumbering round in jeans, improbably spouting archaisms from The Faerie Queene etc. The director doesn't even seem to understand the dialogue as her other actors roar about being clouted yet nobody strikes a blow. The best joke is Rafe and his mates scooting about on bikes which whinny. That apart, it's woeful.

To 8 Oct, 0845 120 750029