The Alchemist is an hilarious, fast-paced commentary on greed, mystical double-talk & befuddling men’s minds with the female sex. Set in the playwright Jonson’s time the story could so easily be today with its references to putting a door in the right place (feng shui anyone) – word spin: ‘casting’ coins isn’t ‘counterfeiting’ them. The need to get something without working for it – the hard work in this play is by the alchemist finding ways to cull coins from his clients.
A fine ensemble cast lead by the excellent Stephen Ouimette rampages through the text with fully realized performances, changing characters from scientist to puppeteer, bawd to queen of the faeries, butler to Igoreque lab assistant. They handle the language with zest and articulation. Sublime costume work supports the humour – air balloon pantaloons – an exquisite ‘Spanish’ disguise with a ‘hat is the antichrist.’
I loved this production and would have to name check nearly every cast member for their memorable performances, even the villager walk-ons have terrific comic moments. The packed house easily surrendered to the momentum of the performance & I don’t recall a show that had so many laugh-out-loud moments. She Stoops to Conquer certainly had its fair share but here they seemed to flow fast & yet were paced well enough one didn’t drown out the next.
My only quibble was the use of recorded pop music – the lyrics were hard to make out & so they didn’t add anything to the show itself . I’m also tried of the ‘nipple’ self-tease – men rubbing their own nipples as an expression of some sort of sexual energy. It’s a very contemporary gesture that was out of place in this production; something that came from an actor or the director, not from the characters they were playing – as if they didn’t trust the audience to get the innuendo of a moment without underlining it this way.
An excellent production. Highly recommended. If this is one of the ones that gets a DVD release by all means buy it. Check out my other Festival reviews: Love’s Labours Lost: http://wp.me/p1RtxU-1ik; The Physicists http://wp.me/p1RtxU-1j4. #sfPericles: http://wp.me/p1RtxU-1ka; She Stoops To #sfConquer: http://wp.me/p1RtxU-1mE
is the full moon
you felt the pull of
does it hold you now
did your early warning
leave you immune
to such indirect sun
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