The Beaux' Stratagem

Date 3rd May 2019
Society Harleston Players
Venue Archbishop Sancroft High School
Type of Production Play
Director Sara Curtis
Producer Helen Farrar

Report

Author: Terry Rymer

Now restoration comedies are not everyone’s ‘cup of tea’, some may say they are past their sell by date! But if you choose the right one, with a cast who can interpret the ‘old’ nuances and humour then you are on a winner… The Beaux Stratagem is one such play…

This is a rollicking comedy with a wealth of characters from dashing gentlemen, con artists to nefarious highwaymen, from buxom wenches to witty wives; in fact roles for all sorts and sizes! This play by George Farquhar would have you believe that England at the turn of the 18th century was nothing but unadulterated fun, following austerity years from Oliver Cromwell and the Puritans! (Now there’s a warning!). Restoration plays of the time celebrated this new found ‘freedom’.

This is one of the better plays introducing enduring characters, best described by their names alone…Played to perfection we had, Lady Bountiful (Pat Paris) and her ‘willing’ daughter Dorinda (Tasha-May Askew), Wilhemina Boniface, (Dawn Symonds) don’t mess with her! Or Cherry B (Esther Patten) with ample charms and a willingness to please! The Sullens , Squire (George Eddy) and the seemingly badly treated Mrs Sullen, nicely developed by (Josie Fuller) with their unfortunate servant aptly named Scrub (Simon Evans)… Of Course we had the two ‘gentlemen’ of dubious intent and subterfuge Jack Archer and Tom Aimwell ( Steve Askew and Ricky moss) who between them added much of the comedy with style and panache and just a touch of confusion!

The plot is somewhat complicated and can be a slow burn, but this cast with great supporting cameo roles had clearly understood the authors intentions and with excellent ‘cue bite’ and a well constructed set (with smooth changes) and costumes of the period, they were able to convey just the right atmosphere without spilling into melodrama. Thus with a script dating from it’s first staging in 1707, we had many moments to savour and an intriguing plot which, with ‘tongue in cheek’ roguish charm , produced a first class evenings entertainment, continuing the high standards we have come to expect from Harleston Players ( Recently winners of the NODA East Dist 6 Award for Best Play ‘Blackadder Goes Forth’ in 2018.). They never fail to please… We look forward to ‘Blue stockings’ in the Autumn.