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The Soldiers' Fortune at the Young Vic

London SE1 website team

Oliver Ford Davies and David Bamber are the stars of David Lan's revival of The Soldiers' Fortune at the Young Vic.

The Soldiers' Fortune at the Young Vic
Sir Davy Dunce (Oliver Ford Davies) and Sir Jolly Jumble (David Bamber) Picture by Keith Pattison

This is the third major production at the re-opened Young Vic and it has surprises in the form of the set.

On entering the familiar round you are confronted by a traditional proscenium arch, like a giant Pollock's Theatre complete with a sham Royal Arms. The designer is Lizzie Clachan, a founder member of Shunt, who has really devised a clever layout with the traditional curtains as the backdrop.

But it is a reminder that the play is a Restoration comedy written in 1681 although the production often has a late 18th-century feel hinting at Sir Francis Dashwood and his Hell Fire Club.

But the Hell Fire was upstream on the Thames whilst The Soldiers' Fortune is a London play. The action takes place in Covent Garden with references to the familiar steeple of St Mary-le-Bow and a warning from Sir Davy Dunce to avoid the ghastly suburb of Knightsbridge. The programme has a fascinating map.

Oliver Ford Davies, a lover of the Old Vic's heritage, has come to the Young Vic to give a brilliant performance as a muddled Sir Davy. Also perfectly cast is David Bamber as an outrageous Sir Jolly Jumble who is obsessed with sex, "boobies" and arranging liasons but never weddings.

The story revolves around two soldiers back from war and penniless just like the play's author Thomas Otway. Captain Beaugard is played by Ray Feardon who has recently been seen in Coronation Street and Prime Suspect. Fellow soldier Courtine is played by Alec Newman whose television includes Spooks.

Their women are portrayed by Anne-Marie Duff as the warm Lady Dunce and Kananu Kirimi as the very cool Sylvia.

One or two actors suddenly but briefly burst into song. This just works. More successful is having the musicians on stage as part of the action.

Lizzie Clachan's complicated set has another surprise: a sauna in the pit.

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