Lyceum Theatre: The Marriage of Figaro, Wednesday 4 April 2012
Not the Mozart opera but the original Beaumarchais play, adapted by DC Jackson and set in the world of Scottish banking and finance. Sometimes these reinventions work well, sometimes not: this one works brilliantly, rather to my surprise. Figaro and Suzanne are the proprietors of a financial services company with (concealed) cash flow problems, about to merge with a much larger bank (but one with its own problems) run by The Chief and The Chair (aka Count & Countess). Figaro & Suzanne are also preparing to marry as soon as the deal goes through. All the rest of the characters are there: Cherubino is Pavlo, a hormonal teen besotted with The Chair, trying it on with Suzanne and threatened with deportation by The Chief. The gone-to-seed-a-bit personal assistant is Margery, to whom Figaro ill-advisedly promised himself in marriage years ago if his business became as successful as this merger will make it. And then there is the stuffy accountant Barry (yes, Don Bartolo). All the requisite hiding in wardrobes, cross-dressing, etc etc, present and correct. I knew it would be good, as my wife and daughter saw it the previous week, and Hilary came with me to see it again.
What stood out? Well, the scene changes were amazing, with office staff carting things about as the set rearranged itself (and lots of lovely little cameos sneaking in there). Pavlo (Jamie Quinn) was wonderful, and the scene where the Chief tries to seduce him (mistaking him for Suzanne) a total joy. Figaro (Mark Prendergast) was great (I liked his tendency to play bits of the Mozart and Rossini operas when nobody was about, and the role called for him to sing a couple of the Mozart arias - not all in context - at scene ends: he was a very good singer). I liked that the very opening had Figaro measuring up his and Suzanne's new office (handily placed between the Chief's and the Chair's....). The office workers providing those all-important scene-change cameos were Rebecca McCoach, Jordan Burton, and Murray Loup. And Stuart Bowman as the Chief blustered delightfully.
But pride of place must go to Barry (Greg Powrie). After all, in this production he gets to appear from a wardrobe dressed as a penguin.
Here is a professional review. Two things: I should probably have twigged that Briony McRoberts's arm was really in a sling, not for some dramatic purpose. And go me!, the "nameless" girl in trouser suit is, I am pretty certain, Rebecca McCoach.