The Man of Mode
A comedy of bad manners
"He's the man...
Every woman wants to be with
and every man wants to be!"
The great philanderer, Dorimont, finally meets the woman of his dreams, but is it possible for this charismatic libertine to give up his womanising ploys for true love? In his wonderfully wicked way, he is every man’s secret self and every woman’s guilty pleasure… Based on the infamous Lord Rochester and his entourage, The Man of Mode follows a large cast of lovers and losers. He serves the perennial battle of the sexes with wit, elegance, and champagne comedy. One of the three biggest hits of the 1670s, the return of this iconic Restoration Comedy highlights the staying power of this kind of satire. Not only do audiences love to laugh at it, but actors and writers still love to play with it. A wonderfully full-bodied, cheeky night out!
Director: Dirk Hoult
Sound: Thomas Backhouse
Lights: Jason Bovaird
SM: Natasha Brown
Images: Angel Leggas / Three Fates Media
Featuring: Josh Futcher, Catherine Glavicic, Dominic Weintraub, Elizabeth McColl, Emma Pursey, Jake Fehily, Leah Baulch, Louisa Fitzhardinge, Maty Young, Ryan Murphy, Tamiah Bantum
Chapel Off Chapel, 20 – 28 May 2016
A WORD FROM THE PLAYWRIGHT - Janet Dimelow
When it comes to great theatre, you can’t go past Moliere: vibrant, witty, and still relevant - especially as it has been translated into modern English. Hence, his work becomes effortlessly accessible and easy to play with. But actually, that’s unfair to the English Restoration Comedies, his equal though handicapped by impenetrable language. They too should be translated to help their brilliance shine, their humour, their outrageous battle of the sexes, and their tongue-in-cheek (I think that’s where it is!) romance. A desire to balance the game got me translating The Man of Mode into modern English. A task I relished for the beauty and irreverence of the Age of Scandal! And as I progressed, I got passionately interested not just in the characters but in the people they were based on. I decided to change the story – originally the premise was that a good, virtuous, strong woman could turn a wicked “whoremonger” into a loving dutiful husband - a bit rich! What about a dose of reality? I decided to include a few relevant facts. To bring to the story some idea of what happened to these people. I changed the end – Dorimant, our wayward hero, isn’t tempered by love – neither was the real Dorimant - John Wilmot. I’ve slightly adjusted his proposed wife’s character to be his match. I thought he deserved a good fight! The more I changed, the more challenges I thought the play could bear. It could be darker! Not a sugary romance but a play with teeth! It gave an already lively work an edge. I disagree with the dreary darkness some people bestow on this era: having become so happily acquainted with 17th Century English writers, I find their work pumps out joy and wit. These were vibrant people, intelligent, mocking, and sexy! That was the tone of the time, as far as I can see. This play proves the point. I added an MC as devil’s advocate to comment on the action, challenge the audience’s reaction, cause a bit of havoc and even affect scenes. He is an admirer but also challenges Dorimant’s truths. And at the end of the play, John Wilmot should have his say: defend himself and his lifestyle even from beyond the grave; to ask the audience for their love and understanding for being the amusing company that he is. And in the end the audience must decide. For myself - I admit my great love for these people and their world – to visit them is bliss. (2015)
REVIEW: Theatre People | 4.5 Stars
Janet Dimelow’s, The Man of Mode is a delicious version of George Etherege’s 1676 Restoration comedy. Dimelow’s depiction tips the scales towards a modern-dressed Melbourne, and she adds an MC (Jake Fehily) to challenge the audience’s opinions. Dirk Hoult directs Dorimant’s (Josh Futcher) devilish dalliances and a most agreeable cast at Chapel Off Chapel theatre. The introduction is burlesque in appearance. The androgynous-looking players are in crisp white shirts and black suspendered jeans. Dorimant deliberates, nestled in a Club chair with his back to the audience. The rakes, Dorimant and Medley (Matt Young), concoct a plan to end Dorimant’s latest love affair with an older woman, Mrs Loviet (Leah Baulch), to pursue a rich heiress, Harriet. There is a premise of unwanted betrothal between the beautiful heiress Harriet (Tamiah Bantum) and the handsome Young Bellair (Dominic Weintraub). Young Bellair has a hidden love, Emilia (Louisa Fitzhardringe), which is evident in their private meetings. Emilia is a mere companion to Lady Townley (Catherine Glavcic) and of no status - not a suitable bride. Old Bellair’s (Ryan Murphy) fatherly devotion is distracted when he is caught unawares of both Emilia’s beauty and her love for his son. Emilia finds herself unintentionally admired by both the Bellairs. Of course, this interpretation would not be complete without its betrayals and deceptions. The rogue and philandering Dorimant has a secret lover, Mrs Loviet’s younger friend, Belinda (Emma Pursey). They sizzle in a midnight liaison. This performance includes Etherege’s original fop, Sir Fopling Flutter, a wig-wearing aristocrat worthy of his name. A duel role played masterfully by Jake Fehily. His speech impediment adds a likeable absurdity to his character. Dorimant is quick to see that Fopling is vulnerable to manipulation. He intends to deceive Mrs Loviet and convinces Fopling of her affection. Dorimant feigns jealousy to disguise his love affair with her friend Belinda. Dimelow has deliberately written a charismatic Harriet. She contests the stereotypical role of the virtuous woman’s desire to tame Dorimant. Both Futcher and Bantum play their witty repartee well. The masked rogues, rakes, scabs, whores, ladies, and fop conceal their secrets at a masquerade ball in Lady Townley’s home. Hoult gives the ‘Age of Scandal’ a modern accent with background ‘doof-doof’ music. Futcher is perfectly cast as the sexy scoundrel Dorimant, and so too is his accomplished and attractive counterpart, Harriet (Bantum). Ryan Murphy (Handy/Old Bellair), Jake Fehily (MC/Sir Fopling Flutter/Pastor/and Chair Driver) and Elizabeth McColl (Nan/Lady Woodville/Pert) each give outstanding multiple performances. These marginal characters deliver exquisite diction and comic timing. As complicit voyeurs, we visit this ‘Fluttering’ world through Dimelow’s, at times clichéd and yet wholly engaging text - masterfully accented by Hoult’s darker cabaret influences and his highly stylised raunchy rendezvous. The delightful English Restoration is ever-present. Dimelow’s adaption will certainly tantalise and enthral those 17th Century English Writer devotees’. At just 90 minutes running time, Dimelow and Hoult will capture your attention, leaving you wanting more.