Educating Agnes, Royal Lyceum, Review

Submitted by Alex Eades on Sat, 7 May '11 6.28am
Rating (out of 5)
Show details
Tony Cownie (Director), Liz Lochhead (Writer)
Chrysalde (Lewis Howden),Arnolphe (Peter Forbes), Alain (Steve McNicoll), Georgette (Kathryn Howden), Agnes (Nicola Roy), Horace (Mark Prendergast), Orante (Crawford Logan)

Running time

Even after all this time,
The sun never says to the earth,
"You owe me."
Look what happens with
A love like that.
It lights the whole sky.
     - Hafiz of Persia

Ah, Eros. Sore backwards by no coincidence....yet also an anagram for rose.

We’ve all read the books. The triumph. The tragedy. Love is a tricky affair. And like all affairs it is deemed, by its very definition, not to sail smoothly and to, perhaps, sink into a bitter whirlpool of hatred, distrust, and all of those other human shadows that we try to avoid.

But sometimes it blossoms into something quite beautiful.

Liz Lochhead’s ‘Scotting up’ of Moliere’s farce, The School For Wives (L’Ecole des Femmes) tells the hilarious tale of the complications of love.

Ageing bachelor, Arnolphe, has decided that in order to have a successful marriage he will have to mould a pure and innocent young lady into an “absolute ideal wife”. And it is the girl across the way, the young and beautiful Agnus, that he is to marry. Of course, she does not know this and has already fallen in love with a much younger fellow. When Arnolphe catches wind of his all hell breaks loose and a series of farcical events unfold.

No stranger to the odd translation into Scots-English, Liz Lochhead has written a wonderful version of a Moliere masterpiece, breathing fresh life into it with its clever poetic rhythms and Scottish banter.

The performances are all super massive. Camp is not the word. And whilst this was enjoyable for the most part, it did feel on occasions that it was dipping perhaps too much into panto territory. This unnerving feeling was also tickled by the sight of Agnes’s flamboyant dress. As attractive as she was, it did make her look like a cross between Bo Peep and a killer mushroom.

It was an enjoyable evening though and I was never for a second bored. The ending was one of which William Shakespeare would have been proud. But that is more down to Moliere than anyone else.

The odd thing though was that, despite all his nastiness and cruel plotting, I actually came out feeling sorry for Arnolphe who leaves the play with nothing but a broken heart. Emphasising the point of loves complexity. That even the most horrid and evil human beings you can think of share what we all are and desire. That we are all huggable and lovable. And that we all want to love and be loved.

Show run ends tonight