Art imitates art imitates life, in Alan Ayckbourn’s newly-restored version of A Chorus of Disapproval, which ends it’s successful run at the Harold Pinter Theatre this Saturday. The joy of this reprisal is steeped in the skill with which Ayckbourn weaves his narrative in and around that of John Gay’s classic satire, The Beggar’s Opera. Itself a take-off of the genteel society of eighteenth century London at the heart of the Enlightenment, Ayckbourn’s 1984 play stands up today.
Guy Jones is a young widower who joins an amateur dramatic company that is putting on The Beggar’s Opera. He progresses through the ranks of the cast, becoming both the male lead and bedding several of his leading ladies. Along the way, he meets characters including ostentatious Welsh director Dafydd and his two-timing wife Hannah.
The National premiered this play in 1985 with Michael Gambon and Bob Peck; its success lives long in theatre memory. This reprisal will be noted for its stealthy direction by Sir Trevor Nunn and a trio of great performances, from former Rob Brydon as Dafydd, Ashley Jensen as Hannah and former Eastender Nigel Harman as our hero/anti-hero. It closes on Saturday and tickets can be yours for the knockdown price of a tenner. Wasn’t it one of your New Years’ Resolutions to go be more cultural?
A Chorus of Disapproval is at the Harold Pinter Theatre until 05 January.