It’s a Mad mad world first

A Mad World, My Masters by the English Touring Theatre and the RSC comes to Blackpool Grand Theatre this week
A Mad World, My Masters by the English Touring Theatre and the RSC comes to Blackpool Grand Theatre this week

A fledgling tie-up between English Touring Theatre and the Royal Shakespeare Company has breathed new life into a pointed comedy first performed more than 400 years ago.

In their first collaboration, English Touring Theatre and the Royal Shakespeare Company bring Thomas Middleton’s riotous Jacobean comedy A Mad World, My Masters to Blackpool Grand Theatre next week.

A Mad World, My Masters by the English Touring Theatre and the RSC comes to Blackpool Grand Theatre this week

A Mad World, My Masters by the English Touring Theatre and the RSC comes to Blackpool Grand Theatre this week

Sean Foley and Phil Porter’s edited version is faithful to the original text –first performed around 1605 and first published in 1608 – but adapts it to fit the seedy world of 1950s Soho.

Character names are updated and songs of the time slotted into the narrative to enhance a biting satire of lust and deception in Bohemian London.

Glamour rubs up against filth, and the posh mix with musicians, whores and racketeers; where ‘virginity is no city trade’, and where dashingly impecunious bachelor Richard Follywit – in need of quick cash and a good time – has to live on his wits.

Turning conman to fool his rich uncle, Richard variously becomes a lord, a high class call girl, and – God forbid – a poor actor.

But a beautiful Soho tart is also on the scam: a whore to some, a religious instructor to others, and an ambitious debutante in need of an eligible bachelor to yet more...

RSC artistic director Gregory Doran, who hails from Houghton, near Preston, says: “It is great news that after its successful run last year in the Swan Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon we have the chance to share Sean Foley’s wonderfully fresh production of A Mad World, My Masters with audiences around the country, thanks to a new collaboration with English Touring Theatre.”

It runs from this Thursday to Saturday.

Box Office: 01253 74 33 39 or www.blackpoolgrand.co.uk