A Mad World My Masters – September 2013

Experience: 8/10

By Thomas Middleton, edited by Sean Foley and Phil Porter

Directed by Sean Foley

Venue: Swan Theatre

Date: Monday 16th September 2013

I was very glad we could fit this production in one more time before the run ends. There was no surprise value of course, and we both felt that tonight’s audience took a while to warm up, but it was still a great deal of fun. We had the added pleasure of seeing an understudy tonight as well – Jonny Weldon took the part of Oboe, and did a good job in the role.

Apart from the understudy being on, I didn’t spot any changes tonight. The cast were even slicker than before, and from our position by the left walkway we could see some details which we’d missed before. Mrs Kidman arrived at the Flamingo Club escorted by the two young men, Muchly-Minted and Whopping-Prospect. Penitent Brothel joined Mr and Mrs Littledick at their table, and while he was enjoying the opening number, Mr Littledick looked a bit bored (or was he just worried about Penitent’s intentions towards his wife?)

When Dick Follywit and his cronies started the ruckus, we could see the mock fighting much more clearly; Oboe ended up on top of Mrs Littledick at one point, and only the arrival of the constable broke the fight up. Before he left, Sir Bounteous Peersucker gave Mrs Kidman the pearls which she would give to her daughter during the first scene at the Moka bar.

Rattling through the early scenes, we came to the arrival of Lord Owemuch at Sir Bounteous’ place, and the change into pyjamas during the song Let The Good Times Roll. Sir Bounteous and Lord Owemuch both threw their underpants into the audience; Sir Bounteous aimed directly at the woman he’d latched on to at the start of the scene, the “corker” who received a lot of attention from him throughout the evening. Fortunately she had a good sense of humour. I don’t know if I mentioned the third ripping sound when the trim was taken off the bench in order to tie up Sir Bounteous; as there were only two bits of trim, the third sound was very funny, causing Dick to look back at the bench.

There was a brief glimpse of Penitent and Mrs Littledick through the bed curtains during the sex scene, and when Penitent tripped over the doctor’s bag which had been left on the right of the stage, he apologised to the ladies on that side for nearly falling into their laps.

After the interval, the audience was responding more and the play bounced along wonderfully well. Penitent burned his hand during the Yield Not song, and when Spunky was inviting Mr Littledick to the fancy dress ball, he stood on the left balcony, well in view of most of the audience. Mrs Littledick burned her letter to Penitent during Cry Me A River – it was made of very flimsy paper and disappeared in a flash. This time I spotted that the bookcase containing the safe in Sir Bounteous’ house was behind door one on the left.

When Sir Bounteous’ watch chimed the hour, there was a lot more checking in the audience to find the culprit, while Dick was horrified that he was going to be found out. The joke about being caught – “have I ‘scaped the constable to be brought in by the watch” – actually got a laugh tonight, followed by some groaning, so at least the audience were paying attention.

When it came to the final dance during Who Will The Next Fool Be?, Oboe was having a lot of trouble with his hat, which kept being knocked off as he tried to duck under other people’s arms. He managed to catch up for the end though, and was pushed forward on the final bows to be acknowledged for stepping up so well. Great fun, and a highlight of this season.

© 2013 Sheila Evans at ilovetheatre.me

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