Blake Morrison’s Northern interpretation of a play first performed in 1709 is brought to life by Northern Broadsides’ in their latest production, For Love Or Money.
The premise is simple enough – an easily influenced and rather naive widow, Rose, is besotted with scammer Arthur. He is often joined by his friend/servant Jack in plotting schemes and lies to trick Rose out of the money left for her by her husband. To keep financially afloat, Rose accepts gifts and money from Bank Manager Algy Fuller, whom she has no intention of marrying whatsoever. As with all things, lies and tangled webs emerge making for an entertaining and twisting play, albeit with a bizarre immoral ending.
Sarah-Jane Potts as Rose is beyond irritating. Though I assume the character is meant to be somewhat annoying, she doesn’t grasp the role which leaves her character fluffy and difficult to empathise with. She also looks very young, leaving Barrie Rutter’s jibbering Algy looking rather odd for pursuing her. It’s a little uncomfortable at times, and it really is no wonder Rose basks in Arthur’s affections. Jos Vantyler is simply stunning as Arthur – gorgeous, charismatic, funny and creepy all at the same time.
Jordan Metcalfe has a large role as sidekick Jack – he is lively and likeable. His downfall is the immensely annoying Lisa, played by Kat Rose-Martin. Her slack, broad accent is grating and her performance reminds me of the ‘comedy part’ in a GCSE school drama showcase. The garish outfits both Lisa and Rose wear don’t help the characters truly fit in with the other cast, and they don’t look ‘at home’ in their costumes.
Jim English as farmer Martin is the real star of the piece, bringing true humour to a play that has potential to be funny, but misses the mark a little too often.
It’s always worth seeing a new play, and this is a strong production. It just lacks the sparkle that would make the whole production shine.
Catch For Love Or Money at West Yorkshire Playhouse until 30th September.