“For Love or Money” is on at West Yorkshire Playhouse from 26 to 30 September 2017 – catch it if you can.
This is such an entertaining romp, I defy anyone to come out of the theatre not smiling.
I have long been a fan of Northern Broadsides; all their productions exude vitality and energy and this latest offering is no exception.
The plot centres round an impoverished young widow, Rose, who is being courted ardently by Algy Fuller (played by the inimitable Barrie Rutter) the local bank manager who showers her with gifts and money. She, however, favours the younger, handsome and dashing Arthur – who is also courting her, but with an eye to side-lining the loot she receives from Algy. In this he is aided and abetted by Jack (played by Jordan Metcalfe, a dead ringer for the Duke of Windsor) who on the surface seems keen to help everyone, but in fact is only helping himself.
There’s also a forthright housekeeper full of advice; a dim-witted farmer in love with a very exotic lady (must be posh, she’s from the South); a bank clerk who keeps his Manager informed on how various authorities are closing in on his (the Manager’s) numerous dodgy doings. There’s Lisa, a saucy maid, who is Jack’s intended; Gwen an antique dealer, who turns out to be the sister of Algy, whom she hates; a brief appearance from a bailiff; and finally the said posh exotic lady from the south, who turns out to be a tramp from London’s East End.
The set is Rose’s elegant but sparsely furnished drawing room, where all the pictures seem to have been sold, and only a chaise longue, a dining chair and a tiny drinks table remain. This of course leaves the cast plenty of room for some vigorous moves. Nobody simply walks; they shimmy, dance, prance, pose – no meaningful pauses in this piece!
The music and costumes set the action in the twenties but the story of greed, financial and sexual chicanery could be set in any age. This play is a new adaptation by Blake Morrison (a Yorkshire lad) of a play written in 1709 by Alain-Rene Lesage. It is his eighth collaboration with Northern Broadsides, and could be his last as Barrie Rutter is resigning as Artistic Director of the company which he founded 25 years ago with effect from next April. It would be a terrible shame if it ceased to exist after he leaves because it has brought great theatre to thousands of ardent followers.
As with many of Blake Morrison’s plays, there is a lot of Yorkshire dialect, spoken with gleeful fluency but not always entirely understandable even to a native audience! Great fun though.
The play ends with the entire ensemble dancing an enthusiastic Charleston, before posing on or around the chaise longue to accept their well-deserved and delighted applause.
Definitely a play to banish the blues.
This review was written by Vivienne Bate as part of our South Leeds Goes To The Playhouse partnership.