Review: A Mad World My Masters


A Mad World My Masters by Thomas Middleton

Swan Theatre/Royal Shakespeare Company

Mad World Ian Redford as Sir Bounteous Peersucker Photo by Manuel Harlan

Mad World Ian Redford as Sir Bounteous Peersucker Photo by Manuel Harlan

RICHARD LUTZ is  in Stratford for a  sex-crazy Jacobean comedy

With characters such as Mr Littledick, Sir Bounteous Peersucker, Mr Penitent Brothel and Spunky the butler, you really know where this play is going.

It’s a rude,  hilarious take on a 16th century  Jacobean comedy. And boy, it can singe the ears. As the director Sean Foley himself admitted: It’s the filthiest play I have ever read.’

And I can see why. A guy sitting next to me whispered, more or less to himself, at one point: Did I just hear what I think I heard?’

Well, yes, you probably did.

The plot is negligible but really, who cares? There are sex jokes, toilet jokes, single entendres, double entendres, more sex jokes and just plain good old dirty laughs in this re working of the Thomas Middleton  satirical  play from 1605 about morals, lack of morals and getting caught with your pants down or your skirts up.

Think Joe Orton or Brian Rix with a codpiece as a nephew tries to gull his dirty minded rich uncle out of his loot; a prissy wife falls for a fake doctor; and the ladies of the night always have the last guffaw. As one character says: ‘We’re all fools’ as he unbinds a constable tied with a red ribbon to a chair.

So, plenty of ear -searing, below the belt jokes, some modern allusions to give it some up to date chuckles and plenty of physical slapstick.

Foley creates sex driven lunacy on stage; Ian Redford is a horny old devil with his whip and his trousers down around his ankles as old rake Sir Bounteous Peersucker and Richard Durden gets a great reception as the ancient butler who, as expected, takes a millennium to carry out his duties to the squeal of his out of control heating aid. Ellie Beaven is the nice Mrs Littledick who transforms from suburban Stepford wife to vamp  before you can murmur  fish net stockings.

Middleton was a crafty Jacobean playwright. Besides his comedies, he wrote good old Jacobean blood and guts tragedies and some say had a re-write hand in Shakespeare’s Macbeth and Measure for Measure. Some boy.

So, a glorious whacko blue comedy for the summer season and definitely not one for the kiddies

*On ’til 25th Oct. Tix: 0844 800 1100

Buy tickets here