Previewed 21 December 2005, opened 22 December 2005, closed 31 December 2005 at the Trafalgar Studios 1 in London
"But tell me, faith, your fair opinion: Is it not a sound and necessary law, This by the duke enacted?" A New Way To Please You, Act I Scene i
When a law is passed stating that every man at the age of 80 and every woman at the age of 60 should be 'put down' for having no further use to society, cross-generational fireworks are unleashed.
A New Way to Please You, a black comedy, was written by Thomas Middleton, William Rowley and Philip Massinger. This production for The Royal Shakespeare Company is directed by Sean Holmes and was previously seen at The Swan Theatre in Stratford-Upon-Avon during the 2005 Festival Season.
"A New Way To Please You is a real find. First printed in 1656, but first performed some 40 years earlier, it was originally known as The Old Law... The law itself isn't debated. It is simply, as Henry James would say, a donnee, and the occasion for a great black comedy... It all makes for a hilarious evening. Much of the credit lies with Sean Holme's sure touch as director, and with bits of business which hit just the right note - a fabulous drinking contest, for instance. There are some highly satisfying comic performances too... Holmes and his cast have only been able to accomplish what they have because the authors have given them first-rate material to work on. The dialogue is witty and vigorous, the handling of situations droll." The Sunday Telegraph
"This rarely performed Jacobean tragi-comedy explores what would happen if the law decreed that men over 80 and women over 60 should be killed to make way for youth and novelty... Yet while this 17th-century version of Logan's Run will leave audiences shocked at the forces of barbaric misrule - the lawyers who impose murderous laws, the inheritance-hungry sons, the hot-lioned young wives betraying their decrepit spouses, the wicked husbands trading in old crones for dolly birds - you are ultimately left feeling that this is theatrical mutton dressed up as lamb. Putting age before beauty - or historical interest before genuine excitement - is the main danger of this season." The Sunday Times
"The sensitive subject of euthanasia makes for raucous laughter in this manic revival of the tragi-comedy by Thomas Middleton and William Rowley... The play may have its serious side and have been billed in its own time (1618) as a tragi-comedy, but Sean Holmes's high-spirited production treats the text as out and out ribaldry... It is a carnival of characters, costumes and theatricality, heading to a happy ending which entirely expunges the dark side of its subject matter." The Daily Mail
"What happens when a prince decrees that men of 80 and women of 60 are useless as citizens or breeders and so must die? Middleton and Rowley answer the question in serio-comic fashion in their A New Way to Please You... This breach of the natural order leads to a disorder so complete that stupid, thuggish punks and sneering, goonish goths end up dispensing their chaotic power. Something topical, then, in Sean Holmes’s immensely lively modern-dress production? Absolutely." The Times