We went to see The Lyric Theatre production of Moliere’s 'The Miser' at the Elmwood Hall in Belfast the other night, with the priceless Andy Gray (Scottish stand-up comic) in the title role. The production, directed by Dan Gordon, plays it completely for the belly laughs, and it reels them in like fishermen when they hit a big shoal – hand over fist, all hands on deck...
It was deliberately low on jeopardy, high on pace and entertainment. Lots of nice Northern Ireland references.
We had seats right in the front row, all the better to see Andy as he mugged it up and winked at the audience throughout. I can’t remember the last time I saw better comic timing. He commanded attention with every slightly raised eyebrow, every little smirk. There was a row of Belfast ladies behind us who giggled and howled the whole way through it.
As the play closes and everyone is safely married off and the money is safely stowed back in the safe, the Miser sinks down onto his bench and muses about the dilemma he faces (I’m paraphrasing here): ‘How do you spend your cash… But still hold on to your money?’
And in the split second of silence, like a FLASH, a lady behind me in the second row shouted up: ‘Ye get it all on TICK!!’
As the laughs and applause rose all around him, Mr. Gray, upstaged, looked out into the faces of the crowd and smiled generously. ‘Thank you… Mrs. Moliere,’ he said under his breath, and then delivered his last lines as best he could.
(I heard on the way out that the lady was the director’s mother-in-law)
It’s a very funny production – Gray is priceless and also tremendous from start to finish is Michael Condron in three roles.
The show continues at the Elmwood Hall until May 29 – find out more on the Lyric’s website at www.lyrictheatre.co.uk