Theatre Interlude: A Mad World My Masters

23 Jul

mADwORLD

A couple of days ago I went to Stratford (one of my favourite theatres) to see the Thomas Middleton play A Mad World My Masters at the Swan auditorium. It was great!

Written in 1605(ish), it is an immensely bawdy and cynical Restoration Comedy re-imagined into 1950s Soho by Sean Foley and his company. Given that One Man, Two Guv’nors survived such a transposition, I am not complaining!

If I write that in this production, Middleton’s ‘Master Shortrod Harebrain’ becomes ‘Mr Littledick’ and another character is called ‘Peninent Brothel’ you’ll get the picture. It was full of double entendres – indeed triple entendres! Wonderfully filthy! The director has cheerfully acknowledged that this production has sought to preserve the jokes for 21st centrury audiences and focusses on sex and money as prime behavioural drivers – and his team have done well! I never thought that I’d say that I can appreciate the ancestors of the Benny Hill Show and Carry On films but, being honest, I do!

None of this would have worked without a top-notch company of actors. Outstanding were Ian Redford as Sir Bounteous Peersucker, and a strong performance from Sarah Ridgeway as Truly Kidman. Ellie Beaven was a sexy, alluring Mrs Littledick – especially in the succubus scene of Mr Middleton’s original and Richard Goulding was an almost sympathetic (if unreformably stupid) Dick Follywit. Special mention goes also to Linda John-Pierre whose singing made the show.

I’m watching so many Royal Shakespeare Company productions this year – but the RSC seems on a roll at the moment!

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