Review: For Love of Money, Viaduct Theatre, Halifax

Barrie Ruttrer in his his final production for Northern Broadsides, For Love Of Money. Picture by Nobby Clark.

There’s no getting away from it: it’s all about Rutter. The indomitable leader of Northern Broadsides treads the boards for his final outing with the company that he birthed a quarter of a century ago.

In Blake Morrison’s updating of Alain-Rene Lesage’s Turcaret, Rutter is not on stage for as much as you might expect or as much as the audience clearly would like, but his presence is even felt by its absence in this light comedy. Rutter is touring with Broadsides for the last time and while this fine adaptation from Yorkshire-born Morrison is full of laughs and stellar performances, it is as the foolish old Mr Fuller being taken for a ride by a young woman that Rutter shines. It is strange to imagine the company without him and he has been given a lovely parting gift by Morrison.

The story, set in a once grand 1920s Yorkshire sitting room, is confined to a single space and requires certain leaps of logic and suspension of disbelief, but go with it and you are rewarded with an occasionally verbose, but lyrical script that is played for all its worth.

Mr Fuller, Algy to the young woman who would have his purse while he tries to give her his heart, is a bank manager being taken for all he’s worth. He wants the hand of Rose, she is more interested in Arthur. In turn, Arthur is interested in the spoils Rose can get for him from Algy: the mechanics of farce are all in play. Add in a supposed-to-be secret wife of Algy’s, Teresa, played with scene-stealing abandoned joy by Sarah Parks and a hatchet-faced sister in Gwen, played by the ever reliable Jacqueline Naylor and the recipe is complete. It’s a lovely experience, watching Rutter on stage with his company. The play’s sort of the thing here, but there is an impossible to ignore layer of watching Rutter wave a long goodbye to his company: surprisingly emotional.

Touring to December 2.

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