Box Theatre Company - The False Servant
2nd to 5th May 2012.
Review from the Newbury Weekly News.
Box on top of their game
The Box Theatre: The False Servant, at The Watermill, Bagnor, from Wednesday, May 2, to Saturday, May 5
The supremely witty Martin Crimp translation of Pierre Marivaux's The False Servant, performed by the illustrious Box Theatre Company, brought much laughter to a chilly May night at the Watermill.
Led by the transvestite Chevalier (Beth West), a woman dressed as a man to probe the character of Lelio, a potential suitor for her mistress (a woman worth 12,000 francs no less), it is a play of wicked belly-tickling deceit, double-crossing and in jokes with the audience.
Looking every part the modern man in a beautiful grey suit, the Chevalier's true identity is revealed to us from the very beginning by her servant, who is about to take some time away The man who he is passing on his duties to in his absence is Trivelin (Paul German) one who is constantly harking back to the days in which his family's name had more prominence - a decline which one comes to assume may be linked to his pursuit of red wine for the majority of the show. Naturally, through his pursuit of wine and the general desire to have one up on the other characters, Trivelin becomes privy to the fact that Chevalier is a woman resulting in him being in a position to bribe and trick his way to as much money - and therefore wine - as possible.
The actors laid out to the exposition marvellously and were all on the top of their games to keep the double nature of the play at its comic best. Luke Niemec produced excellent timing as Lelio, delivering classy backhanded compliments deliciously. Adelina Miller as the Countess was superb in her melodramatic flirtations, increasingly so when she started to succumb to the passes of the Chevalier who, of course we all knew, was a woman.
However, a special mention has to go to Jon Harding, playing Arlequin, Lelio's butler. Seemingly oblivious to the double-crossing nature of the rest of the cast, Arlequin was hilariously characterised as an over-sensitive and dimwitted chap, eventually giving away the Chevalier's true identity to Lelio.
Beth West did incredibly well at playing both the other characters and the audience at the same time, all the way up to the grand revelation that it was in fact her who was the woman in possession of the 12,000 francs all along and delivering the perfectly satisfying moral ending.