Review: The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists at Create Theatre

The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists - Neil Gore and Richard Stone.
The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists - Neil Gore and Richard Stone.

TWO men playing 12 different characters in one production sounds like it could be a recipe for disaster.

But this was anything but the case in the new version of The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists, which is on at Mansfield’s newest performing arts venue, Create Theatre.

The two actors, Richard Stone and Neil Gore, make clever use of props, costume changes and different voices and postures, to become everyone from the Mayor to the most lowly labourer.

Simply putting on a different hat or slipping into a different coat suddenly transforms them, and it is these character portrayals, together with the use of song and even a bit of audience participation, that makes this production so enjoyable.

Political plays - and politics in general - can be a bit dry and heavy going, but The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists, which is based on Robert Tressell’s novel, is anything but.

It is both funny and fun and gets its point across in an effective way that will not put politics phobes off by being too preachy.

Two of my highlights were getting members of the audience to cut up bread to explain how capitalism works, which was both entertaining and educational, while the toff’s tea party puppet show raised many laughs.

The set itself was also very cleverly designed and was adapted easily and effectively to portray the scene and setting changes of the plot.

When interviewing Neil Gore for a preview of the play, he told me it was a guaranteed ‘good night out’.

And he wasn’t wrong. Everyone in the audience certainly had a good night after watching a very good production.

The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists is also on at Create Theatre at West Notts College tonight at 7.30pm. Tickets are £10.