The White Bear theatre has a mission to resurrect lost classics. Such an endeavour can be foolhardy, but not in the case of this spirited revival of a late Ben Jonson play that has been effortlessly transported to the decadent thirties.
Director Elizabeth Elstub’s pace errs on the side of the breathless, as if overly keen to avoid any longueurs. The risk is slight. An all-round sparkling cast brings out the text’s hilarity and makes the themes of avarice and marital and social ambition contemporary.
Hugely entertaining, the caddish Michael Bagwell as Master Compass even delivers a song and a dance as he whisks Mistress Pleasance (Juliet Lundholm) off her feet. Her grace is in comic contrast to the far less marriageable Miss Polish (Darrie Gardner) and her desperate daughter Mistress Placentia (Jennifer Shakesby).
Placentia’s reluctant rescuer is Billy Knowles as Master Needle, who stitches the action together, disentangling the knotted plot that could explain the previous neglect of this inherently delightful play.