The Way Of The World
Donmar Warehouse, London
Until May 26, 3hrs 15mins
Restoration comedies can be all fops, frills and flummery, but James Macdonald’s new production of Congreve’s 1700 play is precise, cool and clinical. It takes its cue from the complex plot of doubledealing, characters professing to hate/love another and particularly the monetary obsession driving it all.
There’s a touch of Much Ado’s Beatrice and Benedick in the gradual coming together of Mirabell and Millamant, even of Les Liaisons Dangereuses in the hint of violence of the duplicitous cad Fainall towards Mrs Marwood. Justine Mitchell as Millamant gives an entertaining if slightly modern reading in intonation and facial gesture. Geoffrey Streatfeild’s Mirabell,
though, dull. is decent but a tad The plum role is the ageobsessed harpie Lady Wishfort (the always excellent Haydn Gwynne), peering into a mirror and wailing ‘I look like an old peeled wall!’, resembling one of those frilly-doll looroll covers and wrestling ineffectually with a chaise longue. Praise, too, in the comedy stakes, for Fisayo Akinade’s superficial manabout-town Witwoud, who has the spark that, for me, is missing in much of this slightly flat production. Mark Cook
Jenny Jules as Mrs Marwood