Review: The Marriage of Figaro, Royal Lyceum, Edinburgh

The Marriage Of Figaro

Royal Lyceum, Edinburgh

Until April 14


Review by Mark Brown


Take one classic European farce, relocate it to the crisis-ridden world of contemporary Edinburgh banking, and – sexual shenanigans in the office, political satire and all – Robert is veritably your mother’s brother. Except that DC Jackson’s adaptation of Pierre Beaumarchais’s The Marriage Of Figaro comes only a little over seven months after Scottish theatre company Ace Productions and their Finnish collaborators Rhymäteatteri offered a remarkably similar concept, in the shape of their modernisation of Nikolai Gogol’s The Overcoat, at the Edinburgh Fringe.

To compare the two is to do the Lyceum’s new production very few favours. Whereas the Ace/Rhymäteatteri show boasted a winning combination of a sharp, insightful script and a fabulously in-tune ensemble, Jackson and director Mark Thomson have created, in The Marriage, a theatre work which has neither the pace for successful farce nor the teeth for biting satire.

Jackson’s concept is sound enough. Figaro Ferguson’s small asset management company (which is holed below the water line) merges with the massive investment bank led by lecherous megalomaniac Sir Randall Badyin. This on the very day that Figaro is to marry Suzanne, who, in turn, is the latest object of Sir Randall’s desire. Add to that the determination of Sir Randall’s PA, Margery, to block the marriage, whether by seduction or legal chicanery, and all seems set for a suspender-twanging, trouser-dropping farce of the first order.

However, despite the best efforts of a talented cast (and of Stuart Bowman, barnstorming as Sir Randall, in particular), Jackson’s script is often too limp and predictable for the production to build up any momentum. Sir Randall’s description of himself as the “captain of the most racist golf club in Scotland” is as good as the satire gets; but the gag is undone, almost instantly, by a lame and ingratiating joke about him also being on the board of the Lyceum.

Having Mark Prendergast’s titular banker sing, with fine (if not quite operatic) voice, excerpts from Mozart’s opera of Figaro during set changes is a neat touch, but it hardly compensates for this presentation’s disappointing lack of punch and vitality.

This review was originally published in the Sunday Herald on April 1, 2012

© Mark Brown


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