She Stoops to Conquer
The tradition has long been for the two-month summer season at the Theatre Royal Bath to open on a light note, and this year the choice has fallen on one of the best-loved Restoration comedies – even if Oliver Goldsmith actually wrote it 100 years after the return of the monarch in England.
It carries its `Restoration` label as Goldsmith borrows from the rakish humour of such earlier comic writers as Dryden and Congreve for his wildly ridiculous mix of turmoil, misunderstanding and mistaken identity. The director, Lindsay Posner, is well known for his sure touch with comedy, but on this occasion the evening gets off to a slow burn,. with the characters weighed down with new-readers-start-here speeches.
It works up a head of steam by the madhouse second-half, though, as London rakes Marlow and Hastings, played in Jeeves and Wooster fashion by Hubert Burton and Jack Holden, mistake an ancestral country home for the local inn.
Worse still, Marlow views the owner and his would-be father-in-law Mr Hardcastle, a suitably bamboozled Michael Pennington, as the innkeeper, and his daughter Kate, made delightfully feminine by Catherine Steadman, as the serving girl.
All this has been manoeuvred by Mr Hardcastle`s quirky and pugnacious stepson, Tony Lumpkin, played by fringe comedian Harry Michell making his professional stage debut, while at the centre of the comic roundabout is Anita Dobson`s cunning Mrs Hardcastle, an over-fond mother whose pretensions of grandeur cannot hide her insecurities.
We need your help…
When you subscribe to The Stage, you’re investing in our journalism. And our journalism is invested in supporting theatre and the performing arts.
The Stage is a family business, operated by the same family since we were founded in 1880. We do not receive government funding. We are not owned by a large corporation. Our editorial is not dictated by ticket sales.
We are fully independent, but this means we rely on revenue from readers to survive.
Help us continue to report on great work across the UK, champion new talent and keep up our investigative journalism that holds the powerful to account. Your subscription helps ensure our journalism can continue.