It’s great to see Griff Rhys Jones back on the stage where he has such an easy affinity with a live audience – at least I think they were live.
He’s the star of Sean Foley’s loose (some may call reckless) interpretation of Molière’s classic comedy, The Miser, which has just opened at the Garrick theatre in London’s West End.
He’s joined by fellow wags Lee Mack, Mathew Horne and Katy Wix but despite this giggle of classy comics, the whole show struggles to be funny.
There are topical gags a plenty. “That’s enough social commentary! We’re not at the Royal Court,” barks the deadpan Mack, frequently reminding us that were supposed to empathise and laugh at the oh so not funny ripostes about bankers, the budget, class, pensions, zero rated hours and more.
But the whole show comes across as a worked out TV sitcom that has a hackneyned script written by a loony leftie. It’s all so tired and familiar. Is this really the best Foley, who I’ve always admired, can come up with?
The wit is witless, the satire stale and the show’s rather lame effects lacklustre. While Molière came up with a rapier sharp parody which poured scorn on the politics of the day Foley and his writing partner, Phil Porter, fall back on cliche.
GRJ plays Harpagon, the eponymous Miser of the title, who runs his household on a shoestring and keeps his two grown up kids on the breadline, relying on the ‘bank of dad’ for income.
“They’re as different as chalk and fromage,” says generic servant Mack.
Interest rates are so low that Harpagon hides his savings at home and refuses to spend a penny. His master plan is to take a young bride – the secret love of his son – and marry off his son to her elderly mother and his daughter to their geriatric neighbour.
Obviously none of this goes down well particularly as daughter, Elise (Wix), is keen to pledge her troth to the butler, Valere (Horne).
The rest of the thin plot involves GRJ conversing to various members of the front stalls and playing an out-of-season Scrooge, Mack offering up droll one-liners and baring his bum, and the remaining cast doing theiir best with lame dialogue.
I hope we see more of Griff Rhys Jones because he has considerable stage presence. Here, however, he has been sorely let down…and so has Molière.
Running at the Garrick until June 10.
Griff Rhys Jones and his comedy chums struggle to animate Sean Foley’s & Phil Porter’s lacklustre and disappointing adaptation of Molière’s The Miser.