"Topical production of classic satire"
by Matthew Partridge for remotegoat on 01/05/15

With the election nearly upon us, Network’s Theatre’s Thatcher themed production of Volpone is certainly topical. Volpone (Nigel Williams) is a wealthy, but childless, nobleman who attracts a stream of hangers-on desperate to be named his heir. He and his parasite Mosca (Judith Barbeler) take full advantage of this situation by convincing them to part with increasingly valuable items of property, in order to be named in his will. He then convinces Corbaccio (Terry Wynne) to disinherit his son (Simon Worthington) and Corvino (John Irvine) to prostitute his wife (Lysanne van Overbeek). However, when he can’t resist playing one final trick on the group, things start to unravel.

Director Bernie C Byrnes has added some interesting touches, with minor characters doubling as homeless people between scenes. Thatcher’s portrait hanging on the wall also reinforces the parallels between Volpone’s materialism and the entire get-rich ethos of the 1980s. However, the production is hampered by Williams’ decision to play the villain as a world weary miser, rather than someone relishing his deceits. While this may be a plausible interpretation, it reduces the force of Jonson’s satire. The decision to emphasise the comic subplots, including the tedious Lady Would-be (Griselda Williams) and the inept judges (Judy Acton, Judith Denwood and Sue Small) further drains the energy from the production.

While there are some good performances, most notably Judith Barbeler’s slimy Mosca, the production is merely solid than outstanding. Still, its worth catching if you haven’t seen a previous production of this Jacobean classic.

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