Ally Lodge reviews ‘The Marriage of Figaro’, at Edinburgh’s Royal Lyceum Theatre, 28 March 2012
Seduction, affairs, marriage and romance fuel the Edinburgh Lyceum’s latest production which, as its tagline says, takes the Edinburgh financial world from the boardroom to the bedroom. With the business hierarchy compounded by a chain of sexual politics, the web of relationships and affairs – both real and imagined – rule over the big deals.
But perhaps the best coupling made by this production was that of contemporary Scottish playwright D.C. Jackson with original playwright Pierre Beaumarchais. Jackson has taken Beaumarchais’s 1784 work and brought it all the way from Eighteenth Century French aristocracy into the Twenty-first Century Edinburgh financial scene. The relocation of this play gives us a piece simultaneously contemporary and classic, particularly in its humour. It is filled with good old farcical comedy: cross-dressing, mistaken identity and characters hiding in the wardrobe. Yet the farce avoids cliché, and, in most cases, is given a twist to keep the audience surprised and entertained.
Then there’s Jackson’s dialogue. Sharp, witty and peppered with brilliant one-liners, the script really hits the mark. With sexual innuendo always smouldering below the surface – both discreetly and indiscreetly – the writing is filthily hilarious. At times the speech takes a more formal, anachronistic tone, which seems like a deliberate tip of the hat back to the original eighteenth-century aristocratic setting, although the artificiality of this felt slightly uncomfortable. Pandering to the local audience with a nicely-placed tram reference (a seeming staple for any vaguely comedic performance happening in Edinburgh these days), among other topical comments, gave it a personal touch – and I’m sure St Andrean students can sympathise with the young Pavlo’s horror at the prospect of being transferred to Dundee.
Towards the end the play was veering towards repetitive predictability, and the ending itself felt a bit too fluffy. The actual staging for the fireworks finale created the sort of big finish that one might expect more in a musical than a play (which is not to say it was not well done – although I dare say the confetti was loathed by the cleaners). But the ending did lack some of the spark of the office scenes.
Staging and set certainly deserve a mention. The set was bright, crisp and chic, and made brilliant use of space (the Lyceum stage seems endlessly deep). Scene changes became another tip of the hat to the past, this time to Mozart, as Figaro (Mark Prendergast) launched into the score of the opera, to bemused looks from patrolling security guards.
Jamie Quinn as the victimised Pavlo, Stuart Bowman as the womanising and sexist Chief (‘Men age like whisky. Women age like milk.’), and Greg Bowrie as the bizarre accountant provide the comedic highlights of the show; but all of the cast are outstanding in their roles.
If nothing else – you may think twice before considering the banking world dry and humourless.
Image credit – Alan McCredie, courtesy of the Lyceum Theatre