York Theatre Royal – until Saturday 2nd November. Reviewed by Michelle Richardson
Northern Broadsides presents For Love or Money at York Theatre Royal as part of a national tour. This is Barrie Rutter’s swansong as Artistic Director, 25 years after he founded the company. This adaptation is a very Yorkshire take by Blake Morrison, based on the 18th century play Turcaret by Alain-René Lesage.
Set in 1920’s Yorkshire it’s a story of love triangles and greed. Rose (Sarah-Jane Potts), a young war widow, has lost all her money and now relies on the generosity of the older and besotted bank manager, Algy Fuller (Rutter), who is hiding a few secrets. She is leading him a merry dance, for her head and heart is elsewhere, in the hands of the scoundrel Arthur (Jos Vantyler), who is much younger and deceitful through and through. He plays Rose for as much money and gifts that have been bestowed upon her by Fuller.
Virtually everyone is pulling a con, the only real honest character is the plain speaking Marlene (Jaqueline Naylor), who is subsequently fired for her opinions. We learn that Fuller is guilty of embezzlement and Arthur wants to get some more of the action and manages to get his friend/dogsbody Jack’s (Jordan Metcalfe) feet under the table, working for Fuller. This makes for even more double crossing by all parties. After several plot twists, Fuller gets his comeuppance, with Jack and his girlfriend Lisa ( Kat Rose-Martin) being the real winners.
The simple but effective set tells it all, a chaise longue, a chair, but little other furniture, tired curtains and wallpaper with imprints of where hanging pictures once hung but have been sold off.
Potts plays Rose with a supposed innocence, languishing on the chaise longue, one of the very few pieces of furniture she has left, in the last dress that she possesses. Rutter pulls off the corrupt and self-righteous bank manager to a tee, believing himself to be untouchable. Some parts of the show used dance and movement and Vantyler really stood out here, he showed great physicality with his fluid movements and eccentricity. I also enjoyed Naylor’s portrayal of the opinionated housekeeper, short though it was.
I did struggle at times to fully understand the Yorkshire lingo, but this was only a minor glitch. Overall the show is full of wit and double entendre and thoroughly entertaining. The show ends on a great high with the whole cast doing the Charleston.