If for nothing else but the costumes and wigs, playing the character of Witwoud in The Way of the World, for Samuel Barnett, must be heaps of fun. As well as modern spins on frock coats, ruffled cuffs and a rather fetching striped onesie complete with night cap he also gets to wear a towering restoration-era wig (see trailer below).
Barnett's costumes are just some of a delightful array worn by the cast in what is a hybrid modern/traditional take on the William Congreve's play of bright young things on the make through the institution of marriage.
Don't ask me to give a summary of the plot because I'm not sure I could recount the intricacies (director Lyndsey Turner confesses to getting a lawyer friend to help unravel the family tree and deeds), needless to say there is a lot of plotting and duping but it all ends satisfactorily with the 'not quite goodies' outwitting the 'not quite baddies' and then there is a jolly good dance.
The journey to get to the dance is a fun and clever. Set against a white back drop the characters explode on stage in colours only matched by their sharp wit and charm.
The opening sequence is imaginatively set in a TV studio where Mirabell's (Ben Lloyd-Hughes) daily life is unveiled in the style of a pop video. The resulting video then makes an appearance in the second half as two characters sing along to it, karaoke style. It is a nice touch serving to illustrate the ridiculous nature and an element of disrespect felt by all the central characters.
Indeed it is a play about how ridiculous those of privilege and wealth have become, so ridiculous in fact that they rely entirely on subterfuge and deceit to get by.
Not a single cast member puts a foot wrong be it gold winkle-picker or platformed stiletto. Special mention should go to Mr Barnett's flamboyant Witwoud, Leo Bill's scarily angry Fainall and the wonderful Deborah Findlay as the vain and gullible Lady Wishfort.
It's getting four stars from me and runs at the Sheffield Crucible until Feb 25 so catch it while you can.
There are a couple of direct connections the obvious one being Mr Barnett who was in Bright Star but Ben Lloyd-Hughes also lists The Hour among his credits