"Watch Out! Alchemist On Heat.."
by Steve Hill on 01/04/10

Ben Johnson's witty,sparky comedy 'The Alchemist' got a good slap in the face here at The Rosemary Branch last Tuesday night.

The frantic pace and physicality of the opening was frankly a bit unsettling. But this 'roughing-up' of the audience was, maybe, just what we needed. Not for traditionalists,perhaps,or the refined of taste. But what we got was a meaty, vigorous performance, occasionally delivered with more gusto and innocence
than subtlety,but all the better for it..finely pointing up the play's exposure of man's insensivity to fellow man with a nicely brutal naievete.

This approach made fun of the duped and the conned,but also of the 'cozeners' themselves. And we were invited to roll around in the dirt along with them and laugh out loud at ourselves.

A more measured and elegant delivery would not have sat well with the very obvious youth and energy of the cast , and would,in my view have smoothed out too many of life's wrinkles and swept too much dirt under the carpet.

If there was the occasional feeling of being verbally and visually mugged by the relentless on-stage activity,it only served to aid empathy with the
'dazed and confused' state of the hapless gulls.

Frankly,on the night,we got what we deserved: conned,cozened and duped, one and all. For is that not why we go to the theatre?

Classic Ben Johnson? Definitely not. But a hugely enjoyable evening of farce and comedy. Leaving the theatre refreshed,uplifted and completely unharmed, the noise of the pub sound system and the words 'you've been Brian Rixed' rang in our ears..Recommended...

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