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), in order 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’s 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 caught is unaware by both Emilia’s beauty and her love for his son. Emilia finds herself unintentionally admired by both Bellairs’.
Of course this interpretation would not be complete without 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 Fopling is vulnerable to manipulation. He intends to deceive Mrs Loviet and convinces Fopling of her affections. 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. Again, Dimelow gives the ‘Age of Scandal’ a modern accent with background ‘doof-doof’ music.
Futcher is a perfectly cast as the sexy scoundrel Dorimant, so too is his accomplished and attractive counterpart, Harriet (Bantum).
Murphy (Handy / Old Bellair), Fehily (MC / Sir Fopling Flutter / Pastor / Chair Driver) and Elizabeth Mc Coll (Nan/ Lady Woodville / Pert), give outstanding multiple performances. The marginal characters deliver with exquisite diction and comic timing.
We visit the ‘Fluttering’ world of Dimelow’s clichéd at times and yet engaging language and Hoult’s cabaret style, raunchy acquaintances. The delightful English Restoration is ever present.
Dimelow’s adaption will tantalise and enthrall the 17th Century English Writer, devotees’. At just 90 minutes running time, Dimelow and Hoult will capture your attention, leaving you wanting more.