Sharp edge of satire is softened

PUBLISHED: 10:09 08 February 2001 | UPDATED: 15:03 22 October 2010

Kaos Theatre presents Volpone @ Norwich Playhouse. By Frank Cliff.

Volpone, Kaos Theatre, Norwich Playhouse

There is perhaps something daunting about the plays of Ben Jonson, even Volpone, for what is arguably his most famous comedy is also a vicious satire of human greed: no one in Volpone lives happily ever after. Kaos Theatre's production at the Norwich Playhouse, billed as an adaptation by director Xavier Leret is a somewhat truncated version with several characters, notably in Sir Politick Would-be missing: a sort of essence of the play. Volpone's bed dominates the stage throughout in what is a very physical production with a lot of business some of it, like Corbaccio's hearing aid and Volpone's scene disguised as a Mountebank which ends as a sung ensemble and almost threatens to become "Volpone the Musical" is very funny.

It did seem at times however that the physicality of the action which sometimes came close to knockabout comedy softened the sharp edge of satire. A somewhat low key performance by Oliver Parham in the title role didn't help and though a hardworking cast produced some polished performances the evening belonged Jack Corcoran's wonderfully parasitic Mosca.

Frank Cliff

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