She Stoops To Conquer

  • Date:
    May 1, 2005
    Review by:
    Polly Wittenberg

    Review by Polly Wittenberg

    Written by: Oliver Goldsmith
    Directed by: Charlotte Moore
    Cast: Remak Ramsay, Patricia O'Connell, Tim Smallwood, Danielle Ferland, Jennifer Bryan, Tommy Schrider, Donald Grody, Brian Hutchison, and Lucas Caleb Rooney..
    Synopsis: Young Marlowe and Kate Hardcastle are a couple who have never met but whose parents have arranged for their marriage. Young Marlow, literally struck dumb in Kate's presence mistakes her for a barmaid and her father's house for an inn.

    Polly Wittenberg's Review

    I often complain about plays that have nothing meaningful to say. And yet, here�s a classic play by Oliver Goldsmith written in 1773, a pure romp, that is as thoroughly delightful today as it must have been back in the days of King George III. There is nothing heavy here, just an awkward aristocrat Mr. Marlowe who is directed to an inn (really the house of his potential potential fianc� Kate Hardcastle) by her trouble-making stepbrother Tony Lumpkin. Marlowe treats Kate�s father boorishly, thinking him a mere innkeeper. Kate assumes the guise of a barmaid. Though they�ve exchanged polite conversation, Marlowe doesn�t recognize Kate in her new persona because he was presumably too shy to look at her face. It�s all wonderfully playful and, of course, has a thoroughly happy ending. Even scheming Tony gets exactly what he wants.

    In London, you can expect to see periodic revivals of Goldsmith�s play in spiffy productions at major institutional or regional theatres as a new generation of actors gets in touch with its dramatic roots. Productions over here of this or other English comedy classics are more rare and rarely spiffy. I am thinking of the production of Sheridan�s The Rivals (1775) at the Beaumont last year that had a fine set and costumes and was for me totally lacking in the appropriate acting style.

    What a pleasure then to find such an enjoyable production at the small off-Broadway Irish Rep. As directed by Charlotte Moore on a relatively simple set by James Morgan, the cast headed by Remak Ramsay as Mr. Hardcastle, Danielle Ferland as Kate, Brian Hutchison as Mr. Marlowe and Tim Smallwood as Tony Lumpkin conveyed just the right tone of cheekiness, generating smiles all around. The shabbily elaborate costumes by Linda Fisher were fine too; except for the pinky pink number worn by Miss Ferland�who has a really extraordinary pug nose�in the first act. As my companion pointed out, the overall effect was to make Kate look like a certain porcine puppet character that I will not name. Her multi-colored costume in the second act was much better.

    Seeing this production, one is reminded once again that you don�t have to spend a gazillion dollars on a show or have sky-high ticket prices to deliver the goods�an enjoyable evening for every member of the audience.

    Polly Wittenberg