Hoxton Hall's timeless dilapidated grandeur is the scene for a reworking of Ben Jonson's classic satire, The Alchemist, based on stories collected from people on Hoxton Street Market.
The great threat to Jacobean audiences was plague, but it's flood that has devastated this fantasy London and caused Hoxton Hall's manager to quit the city, leaving his cleaner, Dave, behind to look after the place. He's hauled con artist Danny and prostitute Evey off the streets to help him elaborately exploit the dreams and weaknesses of the desperate and gullible folk left in Shoreditch.
There's a city lawyer with a gambling problem, a new age hippy with lesbian leanings, a daft and horny toff investing in the development of the philosopher's stone and eternal life, a pair of Sloaney siblings comprising a posh boy with gangsta aspirations and his stupid heiress sister and a deranged American Scientologist mother and daughter. Each has been procured by Dave the cleaner in various guises and their wildest dreams catered for via outlandish fabrications, costumes and devices, all eagerly consumed. A cynical property manager sees through it all but no one's interested in listening.
As the trio get more ambitious, the near misses between visitors and schemes intensify but when the owner of the Hall returns unannounced, things fall apart rapidly for the con artists, all to the benefit of the master of the house.
The cast are young and exuberant. Rose-Marie Christian's talent for diverse characters and accents is particularly impressive, skipping from American to Indian to African to Hoxton gangsta street talk "blud, innit" and nailing rude boy swagger provoking much hilarity from the audience. This is a madcap production bursting with humour derived from the relentless exposure of vanity and vice, of which the con artists are guilty as their victims. Modernised and re-imagined for 21st century Hoxton, this Alchemist is faithful to the spirit of the original, exposing idiocy and greed whilst ringing plenty of pop cultural bells for today's audience.
The Alchemist by Firehouse Creative Productions is on at Hoxton Hall until 10 September: Tuesday to Saturday Evenings at 8pm. Sunday at 6pm. No performances on August 27 and 28, and Sept 3rd. Tickets £12.50, £10 concessions. Part of Hoxton Hall's Urbanism season, curated by 14-26 year olds.