The Beaux’ Stratagem
Director: Simon Godwin
Writer: George Farquhar
Cast: Geoffrey Streatfeild, Samuel Barnett, Susannah Fielding, Pippa Bennett-Warner, Pearce Quigley, Amy Morgan, Jane Booker, Richard Henders, Jamie Beamish, Chook Sibtain
Seen on: 3.9.2015
Aimwell (Samuel Barnett) and Archer (Geoffrey Streatfield) are young, good-looking noblemen who have the misfortune of having no money. So they’ve hatched the plan of finding heiresses they can marry, preferable young and good-looking but definitely with money. They arrive in Lichfield, where they hear of the young Dorinda (Pippa Bennett-Warner) who has all the searched for qualities. To facilitate their endeavor, Archer poses as Aimwell’s servant. As they both insinuate themselves into Dorinda’s life, they also meet Dorinda’s unhappily married sister-in-law Kate (Susannah Fielding). While Dorinda and Aimwell hit it off, Kate and Archer become closer as well.
The Beaux’ Stratagem was a delightful play. Funny, playful and entertaining it also manages to be emotional. I enjoyed myself immensely.
I had never heard of the play or of George Farquhar before this production, but after this first acquaintance I really feel like I should get to know him more. Not only is the play one of the nicest comedy of errors I know, it’s also surprisingly feminist, considering that it’s over 300 years old. It is rare to get a play that is so firmly with the women and their rights like this one, even nowadays.
Godwin directs the play with a lot of sense for pacing. He also knows exactly when he can have his actors ham it up and cross the line into truly ridiculous (like with Foigard [Jamie Beamish] and his accent) and when he needs to hit the right emotional spots. That makes it easy to connect with the characters, to see them as more than just jokes and to really want them to succeed.
It helps that the cast is generally great and plays their roles with verve and soul. Especially Susannah Fielding impressed me, though, and admittedly stole my heart. But all of them get their moment to shine and prove themselves. It’s awesome.
All of this wrapped in beautiful music and great set and costume design, making it one of the most enjoyable, funniest theater evenings I had in recent memory.