"the gross and scope of my opinion ..." Hamlet I,1.
Thursday, May 28, 2015
THE BEAUX' STRATAGEM
Theatre at the Olivier
carnal comedy comes to the vast Olivier stage, nicely filled by a
versatile three-storey house [Lizzie Clachan designed] which morphs
before our eyes from Boniface's
inn to the Bountiful household, as oil lamps flying out pass
chandeliers flying in.
Bruce's music is splendid, too. Folk inspired and lively, especially
in the “Trifle” song and dance number, and the French chanson,
complete with accordeon. Musicians step out of doorways to accompany;
the show begins with a lone fiddler at the top of the house, and ends
that way too, when she is joined on stage by the whole band and the
acting company for a joyful jig.
Godwin's production eschews overly stylish Restoration mannerism for
a more naturalistic feel: Susannah Fielding's resourceful
Mrs Sullen has a feminist streak; she's
well supported by Pippa Bennett-Warner as her sister-in-law sidekick.
The two “brothers in iniquity” are Geoffrey Streatfield and Sam
Barnett. Great comedy performances too from Jane Booker as Lady
Bountiful, Richard Henders as her sullen, silent sot of a son, and
Pearce Quigley as a deliciously deadpan Scrub.
a complex piece, but the pace is excellent and the narrative is
driven along at a cracking pace, especially in the last act, when
bandits, marriage, divorce, and a helpful inheritance come hard on
each other's heels.