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Decadent, depraved, drunk and disorderly, John Wilmot (1647-1680), the second Earl of Rochester, was a very bad boy indeed as playwright Stephen Jeffreys’ unequivocally demonstrates in his latest updated version of THE LIBERTINE, his 1994 Restoration style comedy.

It gets off to a defiant start, with Dominic Cooper’s Rochester addressing us directly with the warning that we will not like him. He’s certainly right about that as he goes around shagging city whores whilst his wife stays home in the country. His performance needs a bit more charismatic power, though, to totally convince as the dissolute rake, cynical satirist and irreverent wit who was both favoured by King Charles II (Jasper Britton) and imprisoned by him.

credit: Alastair Muir

The attractive raised set, dominated by framed projections of period paintings, adds to the atmosphere, as does the lively second act opening - a rousing rendition of lewd poem “Signor Dildo” put to music and enthusiastically delivered by a chorus of lusty females, appropriate props in hand. Will Barton’s serving man is spot on, too, but although there’s fun to be had on the way to Rochester’s inevitably pox-ridden, premature end, Terry Johnson’s production doesn’t deliver all that it promises.

The Libertine

Theatre Royal Haymarket

Haymarket, SW1Y 4HT

Until 3rd December 

£15 - £65.00 + premium seats


Theatre Review: The Libertine
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