Tony Cownie's production of Liz Lochhead's Educating Agnes bubbles with wit and charm (4 stars)

Tony Cownie's production of Liz Lochhead's Educating Agnes bubbles with wit and charm

cedit: Douglas McBride

Peter Forbes, Mark Prendergast and Nicola Roy star

There’s lots to enjoy in this revival of Liz Lochhead’s translation of Moliere’s L’ecole des femmes, but perhaps the greatest pleasure comes from the wit and dynamism offered by the text itself. A palpable sense of anticipation grips the audience as we await the culmination of another couplet to see what irreverent rhyme the new Makar has found to make the great French comedy sing in the Scots vernacular. (Example: ‘I’m going to marry a sweet, pure, simple girl / Your intellectual types, they make my toes curl!’).

Tony Cownie’s production for the Lyceum transfers the setting to Edinburgh, with panto-style references to the Evening News and local taxis. While the period hasn’t been updated, there’s still something very fresh and modern about this tale of a vain, middle-aged man, Arnolphe, who has groomed his young charge, Agnes, to become the ideal ingénue bride. In the lead role, Peter Forbes creates the perfect balance of monster and cuckold, while displaying a consummate ease with the text, and he’s ably supported by Mark Prendergast as love rival Horace and Nicola Roy as the not-so-daft eponymous heroine.

Royal Lyceum, Edinburgh, until Sat 7 May.

Educating Agnes

  • 4 stars

Liz Lochhead's very Scottish interpretation of Moliere's School for Wives, in which an ageing bachelor tries to educate his young charge Agnes into becoming the perfect wife for him, unaware that she's already set her sights on someone else. BSL performance Wed 27 Apr 7.45pm. Captioned performance Sat 30 Apr 2.30pm.

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