The Alchemist

Caterham Rep’s adaptation of Ben Jonson’s classic tale The Alchemist is exactly that: don’t expect any surprises here. If you know the play, then this is a nice romp through his well-known Jacobean farce, and if you don’t then you’ll certainly pick up the gist fairly quickly.

There is potential here, but perhaps their recipe for gold isn’t quite right.

Exploding onto stage from between two screens, it’s a promising start to the hour as plots begin to weave around a house whose master has departed, leaving servants Jeremy (hence known as Captain Face) and Subtle to abuse this opportunity for tricking the locals out of pocket through a variety of means.

Slick scene changes and super-fast cues keep the energy bouncing nicely from scene to scene, using live music to punctuate each episodes with a charmingly off-tune riff on the flute or ukulele.

On a nuclear level it can be quite a complicated plot to follow – disguises are adorn and discarded quite literally at the drop of a hat, and the characterisation needed to make these changes apparent is simply not strong enough. The script is littered with opportunities for comic potential that are repeatedly missed by this cast, although certainly not for lack of trying.

Enjoyable caricatures of the swaggering braggadocio Kastril and the appropriately-named Surly are played with aplomb by Josie Branson and Charlotte Cross, and our leading man William Ward carries the plot as Captain of all misadventures taking place. Amongst the whole ensemble, however, there is a tendency to swallow lines and a lack of compulsion that robbed some scenes of the energy needed to carry this fast-paced production.

Caterham Rep is a tightly-knit company that works well together to produce this new adaptation, but just as the Captain’s victims were kept waiting for gold that never appeared, I found myself hoping for a lift in projection and pizazz that did not arrive. There is potential here, but perhaps their recipe for gold isn’t quite right.

Reviews by Kay Tee

theSpace on the Mile

10:31, MCR

★★★
Bedlam Theatre

Standard:Elite

★★★★
Gilded Balloon Teviot

Ray Bradshaw: Deafinitely Baby

★★★★
PBH's Free Fringe @ Bar Bados Complex

Cauliflower

★★★★
Assembly George Square

beep boop

★★★
Summerhall

All of Me

★★★★

Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. We don't want your money to support a hack's bar bill at Abattoir, but if you have a pound or two spare, we really encourage you to support a good cause. If this review has either helped you discover a gem or avoid a turkey, consider doing some good that will really make a difference.

You can donate to the charity of your choice, but if you're looking for inspiration, there are three charities we really like.

Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
Donate to Mama Biashara now

Theatre MAD
The Make A Difference Trust fights HIV & AIDS one stage at a time. Their UK and International grant-making strategy is based on five criteria that raise awareness, educate, and provide care and support for the most vulnerable in society. A host of fundraising events, including Bucket Collections, Late Night Cabarets, West End Eurovision, West End Bares and A West End Christmas continue to raise funds for projects both in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Donate to Theatre MAD now

Acting For Others
Acting for Others provides financial and emotional support to all theatre workers in times of need through the 14 member charities. During the COVID-19 crisis Acting for Others have raised over £600,000 to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
Donate to Acting For Others now

Performances

Location

The Blurb

A highly energetic, fast-paced jaunt through London in the year 1600 – a place of cozening, gulling, cheating and alchemy. Join Captain Face and his desperate tricksters, Dol and Subtle, in a new adaptation of Jonson's comedy; as fiercely relevant today as when first performed. The supposed alchemist, fortune teller and fairy queen con an array of gullible characters out of money, valuables, dignity and honour. Caterham Rep breathes new life into these extraordinary characters as they weave their way into a comical spiral of mayhem and madness.

Most Popular See More

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

From £18.00

More Info

Find Tickets

The Phantom of the Opera

From £27.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Come From Away

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Blithe Spirit

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Only Fools and Horses - The Musical

From £27.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Matilda the Musical

From £25.00

More Info

Find Tickets