A modern version of Gogol’s comedy of romantic errors
This article is from 2015.
Adapting Gogol is a tough assignment in terms of translating a specific kind of humour; Tom Parry’s adaptation for Fringe institution the Comedians Theatre Company fashions the Russian writer’s wit as a withering parody of a drawing room comedy, broad and subtle in equal measures and performed with an off-kilter energy that generates some big laughs.
A confirmed bachelor (Ben Clark) is persuaded by his friend (Adam Riches) to take the plunge, aided by a matchmaker (Camille Ucan). She lines up an interview with the comely heroine (Celeste Dring), under the watch of her aunt (Freya Parker) but there’s the small obstacle of three other suitors to get past. Played by John Henry Falle, Owen Roberts and Ciaran Dowd, they’re a motley collection; a bore, a lothario and a grasping taxman; the course of true love is 40 miles of bad road in this company.
Marriage offers something of a gallery of comic talents, but they make for a unified comedic troupe under the direction of Russell Bolam. Richard Soames hits the right tone from the start as servant Steven, who also reappears with an ill-fitting wig as another servant, Stephanie; this cheerfully ramshackle approach milks plenty of comedy in a fashion that’s somewhere between Blackadder and Monty Python. Clark has just the right louche charm, and Dring makes for an amusingly demure heroine. But it’s the support that keeps the energy flowing in Marriage, with Roberts a stand-out for his deadpan dull suitor, unable to speak without referencing one amusingly dull anecdote after another.
Marriage isn’t trying to change the world; it’s a 70-minute show that hits the spot in terms of raising a smile, and provides a great showcase for comic actors who seem to be enjoying their performances as much as the audience.
Assembly George Square, 623 3030, until 30 Aug (not 19), 2pm, £12–£13 (£11–£11.50).