Monday, November 26, 2007

Some jokes don't travel (The Arsonists - Royal Court)

Retaining a line like 'some jokes don't travel' in a new translation of a foreign comedy is perhaps tempting fate. But Alistair Beaton has decided to take that risk in his new translation of Max Frisch's The Arsonists currently playing at the Royal Court; and generally he gets away with it. Following a strong opening gag this is rarely a laugh out loud production, but it does produce a steady stream of chuckles is interesting enough to get away with that.

It is held together by a couple of strong performances from Will Keen as the slimy salesman whose middle class guilt and wish not to offend blinds him to the fact that he is harbouring the very arsonists who are in the process of burning the town down around him; and Benedict Cumberbatch as the icy arsonist who finds it is much easier to hide behind truth than lies.

All in all quite a slight play, but still not a waste of an evening.


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