Touring until December 2
For Love Or Money
Couple of things kind of give away the French origins of this play (Turcaret by Alain-René Lesage, probably better known for his novel, Gil Blas). It is extremely farcical; there may not be that many doors but by gum, there’s a lot of double takes, and with Mr Fuller, the bank manager’s case, classic
double double-take from Barrie Rutter of course, in full, unstoppable flow. On top of that, indeed, completely over the top: the plot is hideously convoluted, while the characters are simply hideous. No sympathy vote at all, apart from the down to earth housekeeper, Marlene, who never hesitates to call a spade a blooming shovel.
She spends her time desperately trying to drill some sense into the daft as a brush widow, Rose, who persists in playing the field, encouraging a besotted Fuller to ply her with presents whilst she in turn is besotted with Arthur, whose aim is to cream off the goodies. His apparently devoted servant really is Jack the Lad, inveigling matters so that his girlfriend, Lisa, takes over from Marlene when Rose sacks her.Then there’s farmer Martin, in debt to the bank and in love with the mysterious Terese of the excruciating French accent – and what can she possibly have to do with anything?
All the action takes place in Rose’s sadly dilapidated parlour, the only decent furnishings being a seemingly bottomless decanter. Patches on the wall indicate where once there were paintings but now she’s down to a chair and table and a chaise longue, and apparantly, just the one dress. Indeed, ‘andsome Arthur (Joe Vantyler) sports more make-up than she does. And constantly adopts poses à la Madonna; a more exuberant villain would be hard to find. Well, apart from the pompous, fruity- toned Fuller, and Jordan Metcalfe, the cocky spring-heeled Jack, determined to go up in the world.
Jaqueline Naylor is quite splendid as the splenetic Marlene then as Gwen, an antique dealer albeit a most unlikely one, but it does make a lovely contrast with Sarah Parks’ Terese, part cameo, part dea ex machina, wholly pantomime dame.There’s always a feisty female, naturellement and here it’s Lisa (Kat Rose-Martin). But because the young couple, like every other person, are constantly on the make, even their mutual admiration and adoration fails to win them the description of heroic. And certainly doesn’t fit Madame Rose whom Sarah-Jane Potts cleverly makes such a ninny; the more foolish her actions and words, the more came audible sighs of exasperation from the audience.
Savagely satirical this production may be, yet not a lot to play with, plot wise and characters foolish; they are so totally unsympathetic, little more than caricatures. This 300 year old piece however is still bang up to date where the depredations of banks are concerned. And dialogue and dialect, which the cast spout with considerable relish,delighted the audience. That said, if this was meant as Barrie Rutter’s swan song, it’s a strange choice; more of a dying duck. But, Northern Broadsides after all – always worth a visit.