Sunday 11 July 2010

The Misanthrope - review

The Misanthrope, Comedy Theatre ****
Damian Lewis is excellent as protaganist and main character Alceste: at once ebullient, volatile, believeable and human and has terrific stage presence as well as good comic timing. His main sparring partners are Dominic Rowan, who plays friend John squarely and confidently without attracting too much attention to himself, and Keira Knightley as American movie star Jennifer. Knightley is convincing as the vacuous diva and manages to keep her friends strung up for the entire play until the bombshells are dropped towards the end. It's a part that could easily be turned into a hammed-up mess but Knightley manages to be irritating for the right reasons and is a good foil for Lewis.

The production stays true to the stage directions with a lush drawing room setting. Best of all is a red-hot script by Martin Crimp, which updates the Moliere original and puts it in a 21st century celeb-paparazzi setting. With a loosely rhyming script, which keeps its rhythm throughout and adds bite to the humour, it's a terrific piece of writing. Overall, a very enjoyable show.

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