PEOPLE it seems have always been greedy and nowhere is this point proved more than in Ben Jonson's play Volpone.
Set in Venice it tells the tale of Volpone and his servant Mosca who pretend to all and sundry that Volpone is dying in order that he will get gifts and favours in return for being bequeathed his fortune.
A new production of this 17th century play is now on at the lovely Jack Studio Theatre in Brockley staged by Scena Mundi.
Director Cecilia Dorland has set it in the 1920s and has given it a judicious pruning.
What we are left with is a piece which is tight and funny and which shows Volpone's friends, the greedy birds of prey, Voltore, Corbaccio, Corvino and Lady Would-Be vie for his attention.
They visit him daily with expensive presents while delighting in the fact he appears to be dying.
However, things get a bit complicated when the old fox Volpone decides he wants to bed Corvino's virtuous wife Celia.
Things get further complicated when he is found with Celia and then hauled off to court. It is only the quick wit of Mosca which gets him out of the hole he's in.
It is an interesting production. Steve Hope-Wynne's Volpone doesn't strike me as particularly devious, rather just plain greedy - with wide bulging eyes and a leer when he thinks he's got one over on his friends.
They in turn are a rum bunch, each having their quirks. The funniest is Ava Amande as Lady Would-Be who talks nonsense most of the time, so much so that Volpone has to put his hands over his ears. He almost gives the impression he's a bit weary of his friends full stop and would just rather they all left him alone.
But the star of the piece is without doubt Pip Brignall as Mosca. With a fixed smile on his face he is both cunning and clever with a very sinister edge.
Volpone is on at the Jack Studio Theatre, Brockley Road until October 17. Tickets cost £14. Visit www.brockleyjack.co.uk or call the box office on 0333 666 3366