Aug 8 2017 | By More

★★★★☆  Ruthless

The Royal Scots Club (Venue 241): Mon 7 – Sat 12 August
Review by Sarah Moyes

The Edinburgh Graduate Theatre Group bring Ben Johnson’s comedy, Volpone, to life and new audiences in a hilarious version of the tale about just how far people will go to be rich.

The story centres around Volpone, a rich old man who desires to become even richer. With the help of his servant Mosca, he sets out to deceive the nobility of Venice as they shower him in gifts believing he is on his deathbed and about to leave them his wealthy estate.

Alastair Smith as Volpone. Pic: J Gordon Hughes

Buoyed by their success, the pair even manage to persuade the merchant Corvino to offer up his beautiful wife in order to bring Volpone back to health.

Martin Foreman directs his new adaptation of Ben Johnson, updating the original 17th century script to the 19th century and giving a lot more emphasis to physical and visual comedy. And, in another variation, two of the main characters have changed gender.

The role of Volpone’s maidservant Mosca is now played by a woman. Vanashree Thapliyal is superb as his sidekick in her ruthless desire to scam as many people as possible out of their fortune.

The wise but doddery Corbaccio is now Corbaccia and Hilary Davies is comical as the frail and very hard of hearing wealthy woman who wants nothing more than to become heir to Volpone’s fortune, but muddles up almost everything she hears.


Alastair Smith’s portrayal of the cunning fraudster Volpone is excellent as he moves from the comical scenes where he pretends to be dead to jumping around the stage with excitement as his scams deepen. His pairing with Thapliyal as Mosca is perfect, and two bounce off each other wonderfully as they work their magic to rip off Corvino, played by Stuart Townley, and Voltore, played by Chris Pearson.

Corbaccia (Hilary Davies) tempts Mosca (Vanashree Thapliyal), Pic J Gordon Hughes

The three judges (Siobhan McGovern, Richard Godden and Beverley Wright) provide lots of laughs during the courtroom scenes, and with all the main cast on stage trying to lie their way out of various scams, the scenes become the highlight of the show. Of course, the court eventually sees through the lies and Volpone gets his comeuppance in the end.

With over 60 years of experience, the Grads certainly know a thing or two about theatre. Their Volpone is an thoroughly enjoyable show that will keep you on your toes and have you laughing too.

Running time: One hour, 45 minutes
The Royal Scots Club, 29-31 Abercromby Place, EH3 6QE (Venue 241)
Monday 7 – Saturday 12 August 2017
Evenings: 6.30pm.
Tickets and details: https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/volpone

The Grads website: http://www.egtg.co.uk/
Twitter: @TheGrads
Facebook: @edingrads

Martin Foreman’s new version of Volpone is available to buy from Amazon. Click on the image below for details:


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