FRINGE REVIEW – The Virtuous Burglar, Assembly George Street


7 – 30 Aug (not 16, 23), 1415 (1515) @ Assembly George Street

By Danielle Farrow

The Virtuous Burglar gets off to a grand start as this thieving gentleman struggles to break in through a window. A detailed bit of physical business, unrushed and assured, sets the tone for highlights of this tempting tale, and the burglar is soon struggling with far more than just keys and a window ledge as a variety of bourgeois characters interrupt him while he just tries to get on with his job: entangled shenanigans and hypocritical ‘misunderstandings’ ensue to fine farcical effect.
There are grand prompts for laughing out loud in Dario Fo’s comedy about sexual and social relations, though occasionally the translation, by Joseph Farrell, offers some phrases that sound strange. Set and costume support the business and the late ’50s era sufficiently, while the pace and physical comedy are well-handled by director Vivian Munn, who has the cast attack the play with gusto. The burglar himself offers a great performance with real charisma; real feeling, however, is lacking in some of the other characters, making them unbelievable, though mostly saved by great lines. One character is confusingly arch in what seems more an acting manner than an acting choice, but special positive mention is deserved for the strong presence of the final lover to appear: he makes his short time on stage striking and memorable.
The Virtuous Burglar is colourfully presented, highly entertaining in its absurd piling on of characters and situations, and offers a fun hour of amusing farce that is likely to bring a smile to your face and possibly even a spring to your step. Remember, when next you indulge in a wee nip or two of whisky, you are merely ‘preparing yourself spiritually’.

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