GRIFF Rhys Jones stars as Harpagon in Moliere’s The Miser which is at the Theatre Royal Bath until February 18.

Here he chats about treading the boards in this classic play.

What was it about The Miser that appealed to you?

I’ve always found Sean Foley’s high-octane style of comedy very funny. He asked me to do something a long time ago that I couldn’t do but we met up again more recently and we discussed doing some Moliere.

What’s especially interesting about The Miser is that it was written in prose rather than verse, and it’s just a really funny piece of writing. Sean and I both found as we’ve got to know it that there are all sorts of comic elements in there; it’s like The Marx Brothers mixed with Commedia dell’arte.

Is it a challenge to make jokes written in the 17th century resonate with a contemporary audience?

Certainly the audience at the time would have been very aware of the comic traditions. There was a lot of irony around the lovers, for example.

I’ve seen a lot of very stylised productions of Moliere, which can feel rather like being at the opera. They can often be heavily literary as well - which means you leave thinking ‘that was very interesting’, but not necessarily laughing very hard.

But with this production we’re aiming to remain true to Moliere’s incredible instinct for comedy. I really salute Mark Goucher (producer) and Sean for bringing Moliere back to a West End audience.

Are you enjoying working with Lee Mack and Mathew Horne?

Hugely. It’s been wonderful working with other comedians again and it created a very funny rehearsal room.

Despite its title The Miser is very much an ensemble play - you can tell it was written for a company. All the roles are strong and they’re being played by very strong comic performers. I’d better watch out!

You’ve appeared in a number of comic plays, and won two Olivier Awards in the process. Would you call this your natural territory?

There’s an excitement about doing farce on stage that is unique. Television and film has its delights but it can be rather boring with lots of sitting around and waiting. And I do like a joke, so being in plays that are very broad and black in their humour is certainly something I enjoy.