A Mad World My Masters - Theatre ☆☆☆☆☆5

Showing from - Thursday, March 5, 2015 through till Saturday, March 7, 2015

Grand Theatre - Blackpool

Sandra Mangan | Friday, March 6, 2015

A Mad World My Masters reviewed by Sandra Mangan on Friday, March 6, 2015 for Downstage CentreA bawdy romp filled with innuendo - 'A Mad World My Masters' is not a play for the prudish

Here’s a great idea. Why not bring a 17th century play to a provincial theatre on a windy, wintry March night?


Sounds like utter folly, doesn’t it? But in the hands of the combined, and colossal, skills of the Royal Shakespeare Company and English Touring Theatre it is a winner all the way.
Director Sean Foley describes it as "the filthiest play he’s ever read"
Written in the early 17th century, Thomas Middleton’s bawdy romp has more innuendo than Blackpool’s famed Comedy Carpet.


It is a tale of social climbing, snobbery, love and lust which is as potent today as when it was first written. For this production, the action has been transferred to London’s Soho in the 1950s, and the setting proved perfect, with enormous attention to detail. The costumes were Mad Men meets Call the Midwife and almost everyone was smoking cigarettes.


Dimly Lit Nightclub

The play opened in a dimly lit nightclub, a neon sign proclaiming it as the Flamingo, and even before the appointed starting time a lone, scantily clad blonde sat at one of the tables, idly chatting to members of the audience as they arrived at their seats in the stalls.


At 7.30 prompt, a side door in the auditorium was flung open and a rowdy rabble of merrymakers, waiting staff and hangers-on crowded in - some of them bearing trays of drinks, which they offered to hapless audience members. It was a high-spirited start to a hugely enjoyable night of theatre.


Impressive vocal performances

The set was a triumphant piece of work, capable of any number of transformations. The onstage band even had a balcony all to themselves, with Singer Linda John-Pierre flitting between it and the stage for her impressive vocal performances. She has a first class voice, but was not the only one to show off her singing prowess during a play which had a surprising proliferation of musical numbers – all of them well received by an appreciative audience.
A Mad World My Masters Blackpool Grand RSC English Touring Theatre
The incredibly hard-working cast were obviously having a ball (this innuendo stuff is catching!) and every one of them excelled, but I must make special mention of Joe Bannister as Dick Follywit, Sarah Ridgeway as Truly Kidman, Ian Redford as Sir Bounteous Peersucker and Dennis Herdman as Penitent Brothel.



A Mad World…. is not a play for the prudish. Much of the dialogue is near the knuckle (in the programme notes, director Sean Foley describes it as the filthiest play he’s ever read) and we even had an onstage sex scene – quite possibly the funniest moment of the night. However, if you’re up for some fun, plenty of laughs and a basket load of first-class performances then I heartily recommend it. A fantastic production which received a huge ovation after a rollicking musical finale.

March 5th's performance was a captioned (Stage Text) performance - Saturday March 7th's evening performance will be an audio-described performance.


'A Mad World My Masters' is at the Blackpool Grand until March 7th, and then continues on  a national tour.


Production Information

Theatre: Grand Theatre

Showing Until: Saturday, March 7, 2015

Production Company: Royal Shakespeare Company & English Touring Theatre

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