Review: THE MISER at Stratford Festival is Rich with Laughter

By: Sep. 18, 2022
Review: THE MISER at Stratford Festival is Rich with Laughter

Originally scheduled for the 2020 season, THE MISER, starring Colm Feore and directed by Antoni Cimolino, is currently playing at the Stratford Festival's Festival Theatre stage. This Moliere comedy of manners fits right into current times, and this new adaptation by Ranjit Bolt is filled with pop culture references that elicit many a chuckle and belly laugh from the audience. The deliciously funny cast is in fine form and Feore appears to be having the time of his life.

Feore plays Harper, the titular 'Miser' who spends the entire play paranoid that people are out to rob his hidden fortune. Technically, he isn't wrong, as that is just what Fletcher (Emilio Vieira) spends the entire play trying to do - but it is almost a self-fulfilling prophecy as it is very much Harper's reputation as a misanthropic cheapskate that spurs Fletcher on. While Fletcher may get some enjoyment out of getting under Harper's skin, two people who are fed up with him are his daughter Eleanor (Alexandra Lainfiesta) and son Charlie (Qasim Khan). Both have fallen in love, but are hesitant to tell their father because they fear if he disapproves of their chosen mates, they will not receive their inheritance. As Claudia and Charlie hatch chaotic plans to convince their father to approve of their prospective spouses, and or figure out how to make it on their own, we are introduced to an array of comedic characters who enter Harper's home for their own reasons. Hijinks ensue, the story takes some unexpected twists and turns, and it is a laugh-riot throughout.

The audience immediately gets a sense of who Harper is when we take our seats and see the set (designed by Julie Fox). The Festival Theatre stage has been transformed into Harper's home -somewhat cluttered with random items of varying value, on display for all to see the wealth Harper possesses. The play transitions from one scene to the next via funny vignettes involving Harper's staff Claudia (Hilary Adams) and Mervin (John Kirkpatrick). Speaking of Harper's staff, Ron Kennell gives a hilariously memorable performance as Jack - Harper's frustrated chauffeur and chef.

Other standouts include the always entertaining Steve Ross as the Detective, Jamie Mac as Victor -Harper's butler/assistant and Eleanor's secret fiancé, and Beck Lloyd as Marianne - a love interest for Charlie who is then also pursued by Harper himself. Festival favourite Lucy Peacock is in fine form as Fay, a friend who has arrived on the scene to play matchmaker for preferably not so small fee.

The more ridiculous this play gets, the more the audience appears to enjoy it. The audience in itself becomes a character on more than one occasion, first, where it appears Harper breaks the fourth wall and has us in on his plan, and later when he then appears to be surprised to see us. Feore seems to feed off the audience in these moments, and in turn we are then somehow the ones eating out of his hand.

If you are seeking a fun and laughter-filled day or night at the theatre, look no further than this delightful production.

THE MISER continues in Repertory at the Festival Theatre until October 29th.

Photo Credit: David Hou