By Kate Stephenson
Volpone’s central themes of money, power and deceit are as pertinent now as when it was first performed and director Ben Prusiner and company Re:Verse have produced a show that sets out to draw parallels between these and the current political and economic climate. They have, on the whole, achieved their aims; the script feels fresh and relevant and the satirical nature of the piece was highlighted adeptly.
There were some excellent performances, David Phillips as Mosca commanded the stage and his monologues were stand-out moments in the production. Tony Froud (Voltore), Jodie Fletcher (Corbaccio) and Jim Johnson (Corvino) made an entertaining trio, bringing energy, enthusiasm and some wonderful comedic timing to their roles whilst Anna Rose James successfully made Celia a likeable and rounded character.
The aesthetic was very mixed, characters predominantly wore modern dress which fitted effectively with the overall vision but it was unclear why the decision had been made to place Celia and the musicians in something approximating period attire. A similar incongruity was seen in the use of props with many rendered as oversized, two-dimensional representations, a clever concept, but one that contrasted rather jarringly with the use of inflatable props elsewhere in the production. The costumes were juxtaposed with fantastical and dramatic head pieces which were beautifully made and were an ingenious addition, emphasising the animal characteristics of the roles and referencing the carnival-esque nature of the plot.
This same creative flare was seen in the use of a magnificent, giant double-headed puppet to represent the judges in later scenes. Imposingly voiced by James Witchwood and Fizz Margereson, this dwarfed cast members and was used to great effect to enact final justice on the protagonists.
Although the overall production lacked pace in places, it was carried by strong acting and noteworthy visual creations which demonstrated a wide variety of imaginative ideas, some of which were more comprehensively realised than others.
This performance was reviewed in Rowntree Park but due to the weather forecast for the rest of the week, subsequent performances of will take place at Southlands Methodist Church on Bishopthorpe Road (17th May & 20th -21st May, 7pm)