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She Stoops to Conquer - Creative Cow on tour

Published by: G.D. Mills on 24th Jun 2014 | View all blogs by G.D. Mills







Oliver Goldsmith’s comedy of manners, She Stoops to Conquer, with its gently satirical take on the opposing words of town and country, sophisticat and yokel, has been popular with audiences since its first performance in 1773. True to the spirit of a restoration comedy, there is misunderstanding and mistaken identity galore. Two hankerchief wielding fops from London find themselves duped into believing that the country home they are staying at is an inn, and so treat their expectant host with the kind of contempt they would habitually extend to a common inn keeper. The romantic heart of the play lies in the pursuit, by the hosts daughter Miss Hardcastle, of their metropolitan visitor, Charles Marlow, who when confronted by women of a certain class is reduced to a stutturing wreck. By disguising herself as a maid to incite his veiled passions, Miss Hardcastle ‘stoops to conquer’.

This production offers a solid interpretation of the play, and rises at times to a robust comic ebullience in the second half. Fresh faced and fresh out of drama school, George Jennings offers us a credible Marlow, whose strange disposition veers between querelousness and quarellsomeoness, timidity and temerity. Eventually, of course, he is snared by the buxom and beautiful Miss. Hardcastle, played by Leonie Spilsbury, who matches Marlow’s duality by adopting the shape of both dutiful daughter and devious seductress. Jope Bateman plays a roguish and generously girthed bumpkin, pursued in jest by Constance (Polly Hughes), his charmingly impish cousin. Presiding over the chaos is the increasingly apoplectic host, Mr. Harcastle (David Summer), who crumbles into rustic disaray upon meeting his impudent guests.

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Creative Cow, a touring theatre company conceived on a Devonshire farm, offers us a simple yet fluid set composed largely of four gilded picture frames which capture the characters, tricked out as they are in all their ridiculous frippery and finery, as if in a series of tableaux. Inevitably the final tableau is one of resolution and reconciliation: friendships are restored and lasting concords established. ‘Pshaw, pshaw! This is all the whining end of a modern novel’ says Mrs Hardcastle. Whining or no, this also marks the end of one of the genre’s most enduring classics.

Malvern was the last in line of this particular tour, but for upcoming productions visit their website here

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