Anselme + Marianne
Valare + Maitre Jacques
Preliminary set design
Plan of false perspective
Set from Stalls
Set from Upper Circle
Set from Upper Circle

The Miser graphics

Costume precedents
Scenery precedents
Elise + Frosine
Harpagon + Cleante
Preliminary costumes


Lyric Hammersmith Theatre, London

Director Martin Constantine

Harpagon, a rich widower miser, rules his house with a meanness which is legendary in Paris. He suspects everyone of trying to steal his wealth so he constantly checks his grounds where he has buried a large sum of money in a strongbox. He marginalise and dominates his children his grown children Cleante and Elise. Harpagon schemes with the matchmaker Frosine to marry of his children wealthy suitors while also arranging a lustful marriage to the young Marianne. Father and son have designs on the same woman so they become rivals in love. Elise desires to marry the penniless servant Valare. Through a staged robbery the children take control of their own destinies forcing their father to give up his plans for their weddings in return for the return of his cashbox. Anselme arrives at the last moment to reveal the truth about Marianne and Valare's proper place in society while Harpagon slinks off with his money restored.

Harpagon's home is depicted as a large strongbox. At the start of the play Harpagon unlocks this safe to reveal an opulent but dilapidated interior. This is designed as a false perspective which adds to the illusion of grandeur while permitting comic distortion of human scale as the actors advance upstage through the space. A new crumbling proscenium is built to bring the dilapidation into the audience.

The costumes are based on 17th century French fashion. I conducted research for period clothing at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London and at the Costume Museum in Bath where actual clothing from this period was examined. Harpagon's children have squandered the money left them by their dead mother on excessive garments in shades of cream and pink. Marianne, Valare and Anselme are linked by their blue clothing.

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Preliminary costume sketches.
The Miser
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