Previewed 1 March 2017, Opened 13 March 2017, Closed 3 June 2017 at the Garrick Theatre
A major revival of Moliere's classic comedy The Miser in London starring Griff Rhys Jones, freely adapted by Sean Foley and Phil Porter and directed by Sean Foley.
Fanatical about protecting his wealth, the paranoid Harpagon suspects all of trying to flinch his fortune and will go to any length to protect it. As true feelings and identities are revealed will Harpagon allow his children to follow their heart, or will his love of gold prove all-consuming?
The cast features Griff Rhys Jones as 'Harpagon', Lee Mack as 'Maitre Jacques' and Mathew Horne as 'Valere' with Katy Wix as 'Elise' and Ryan Gage as 'Cleante' along with Ellie White as 'Marianne', Andi Osho as 'Frosine', Saikat Ahamed as 'La Fleche', Michael Webber as 'Maitre Simon' and Simon Holmes as 'Dame Claude / Pedro'. Directed by Sean Foley.
When this production opened at the Garrick Theatre in March 2017, Dominic Maxwell in the Times highlighted that "they certainly cram in the comedy in this free, verging on frantic Molière adaptation... a show that is keen — too keen — not to bore us... Yet the jokes are plentiful and well executed enough that if you don't like one bit of wordplay or slapstick or song, there's a fair chance you will like the next." Fiona Mountford in the London Evening Standard noted that "'freely adapted': these are the key words. Sean Foley and Phil Porter have taken beaucoup de liberté avec Molière's nearly 350-year-old comedy to provide a pumped-up evening that at times feels like an exhausting onslaught of mirth. Such is the unrelenting pace I feared that everyone, both onstage and off, would require a good liedown come the interval... Griff Rhys Jones and Lee Mack, seasoned performers both, revel in the grandstanding opportunities." Ian Shuttleworth in the Financial Times said that Lee Mack "works both audience and material a treat, and with the apparent effortlessness which (belying a keen precision beneath) is the usual hallmark of Sean Foley’s comic enterprises. Here, though, it repeatedly feels as if almost everyone is trying much too hard." Neil Norman in the Daily Express exlained that, "rather than play it straight as a satire, Foley pushes all the buttons marked 'panto' and encourages his cast to do the same... Some of it is mildly amusing though the modern-day references get old very quickly... In his first West End role, Lee Mack is very funny but isn't really an actor so much as a comedian who wandered on to the stage. With a nod to The Play That Goes Wrong, this is The Farce That Nearly Goes Right. But not quite." Quentin Letts in the Daily Mail thought that "the evening has its moments but the whole thing might have been funnier if Mr Foley had trusted Moliere a little more." Dominic Cavendish in the Daily Telegraph wrote that "coming into a market glutted with light entertainment, this new version of Moliere’s The Miser strikes me as possibly surplus to requirements... it's fun enough, but you may want to save your shekels." Michael Billington in the Guardian commented: "I guess, since we see Molière’s play so rarely, we should be grateful for this free adaptation by Sean Foley and Phil Porter... But the production’s anything-for-a-laugh approach means we miss the point that this play, like all great comedies, has a tragic undertow."
Griff Rhys Jones was last seen in the West End playing 'Fagin' in the musical Oliver at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane in 2009. Mathew Horne's West End theatre credits include Jamie Lloyd's West End Premiere of Alexi Kaye Campbell's play Pride at the Trafalgar Studios in 2013 and Nick Bagnall's revival of Joe Orton's comedy Entertaining Mr Sloane at the Trafalgar Studios in 2009. Sean Foley's London credits include Ronald Harwood's play The Dresser at the Duke of York's Theatre in 2016; Francis Veber's comedy The Painkiller at the Garrick Theatre in 2016; the 'X-Factor' musical comedy I Can't Sing! at the London Palladium in 2014; Bobby and David Goodale's PG Wodehouse comedy Perfect Nonsense with Jeeves & Wooster at the Duke of York's Theatre in 2013; the stage vesion of the 'Ealing Comedy' The Ladykillers at the Gielgud Theatre 2011 and Vaudeville Theatre 2013; Joe Orton's comedy What The Butler Saw at the Vaudeville Theatre in 2012; and the quick-change show Arturo Brachetti at the Garrick Theatre in 2009.
"With a cast that includes Griff Rhys Jones, Lee Mack and Matthew Horne, Sean Foley's adaptation of Moliere's 17th-century comedy firmly intends to be a copper-bottomed hit. At the very least, an extremely funny one. Yet, sorry to be miserly, Foley's strenuously modern update made me laugh barely once. Rhys Jones, hideously gap-toothed, plays the eponymous Mr Harpagon, an unhinged, tyrant so obsessed with keeping his money he is determined to marry his children to two wealthy, elderly suitors to save on wedding costs. The Miser may not be Moliere's best comedy - yet in its bleak depiction of one man almost destroyed by his love of cash, it has more substance than Rhys Jones's clownish performance ever gives you here. Foley's bawdy, knockabout new version of a play concerned with the corrosive power of money is, in keeping with Moliere's populist style, full of slapstick... At least Mack is very good as the sour and scornful servant Maitre Jacques. Elsewhere though, character is glibly sacrificed in the name of caricature. In essence, the pace is too slow and the jokes aren't funny. A miserable evening." The London Metro
"Molière was even more of a scavenger than Shakespeare, basing many of his plots on classical originals and his characters on stock commedia dell'arte figures he and his troupe performed around France during his provincial apprenticeship. His genius lay in marrying these elements with studies of social and psychological ills, often through a central character whose pathology lent the play its title, such as The Would-be Gentleman, The Imaginary Invalid, The Misanthrope and The Miser. This last, one of Molière's masterpieces, mixes low comedy, largely through the antics of a household of inept servants, with a study of soul-destroying avarice to match Ben Jonson's Volpone. Not that anyone would know it from seeing Sean Foley's current production, which makes TV's 'Allo 'Allo look like Chekhov. Foley, who also adapts along with Phil Porter, displays so little faith in the play that he fills it with lame gags, tedious audience participation and groan-inducing contemporary references. Granted, the miser's children, Elise and Cléante, can be colourless, but making them as grotesque as their father removes any dramatic tension. Griff Rhys Jones in the title role is the production's saving grace. A consummate comedian, he imbues the miser with the same malevolent twinkle as his Drury Lane Fagin in Oliver! But only in his horror on finding his treasure chest stolen does he have a chance to show his true mettle. Both he and the audience deserve better." The Sunday Express
"It stars a nimbly capering Griff Rhys Jones in the title role, but at the risk of sounding mingy, this isn’t a Miser to see whatever the cost. Sean Foley and Phil Porter’s free adaptation of Molière’s 17th-century comedy is not so much homage as slapstick, Blackadder-esque spoof with a smattering of Franglais... Jones’s miser, grizzled, forlorn of gaze and tight enough to slurp up spilt wine from the floor, suggests he could easily deepen his character from comic frivolity to desperation if given the chance. Lee Mack provides solid support as Harpagon’s dogsbody and Katy Wix brilliantly channels Madeline Kahn as one of his witless offspring. Foley’s production is sometimes a barmy tour de farce, but often just hard work." The Sunday Times
The Miser in London at the Garrick Theatre previewed from 1 March 2017, opened on 13 March 2017 and closed on 3 June 2017.