Rogues & Vagabonds

theatre, film & tv past and present 2001-2008 & 2013…

Archive Review • SHE STOOPS TO CONQUER • Richmond Theatre [tour] • 2008

Richmond Theatre © Sarah Vernon

Richmond Theatre © Sarah Vernon

If ever a production showed just how important it is to get the set and costumes right, this touring version of She Stoops to Conquer from Birmingham Rep and The Touring Consortium, directed by Jonathan Munby, is it. And that’s a shame because a good production is struggling to get out, one that has many of the right ingredients. The play may be over 200 years old but it still has the capacity to amuse, if done well.

Tony Lumpkin (Jonathan Broadbent) creates havoc and misunderstanding when he mischievously leads young London blades, Charles Marlow (Matthew Douglas) and George Hastings (Matthew Burgess), astray by giving directions to what is, in fact, their intended destination – the home of the Hardcastles – by telling them it is the local hostelry. Thus Marlow mistakes Miss Kate Hardcastle for the barmaid and Mr Hardcastle for the landlord. The Mistakes of a Night should build with satisfying alacrity.

While the actors are, for the most part, no more than serviceable, some of the females are engaging and funny, particularly Dorothea Myer-Bennett as Kate. She gives a delightfully polished performance as the spirited ingénue who knows exactly how to ‘play’ Marlow, whether he is being the swaggering buck who believes her to be the barmaid or the timorous, stuttering suitor he becomes when in the company of society ladies.

Liza Goddard, replete with a Brummie accent, erases all memory of her television roles by giving a charged performance as the vain and manipulative Mrs Hardcastle, making great use of her voluminous skirts and a mobile face. She rushes hither and thither in desperate attempts to ensure that her son Tony courts Constance Neville (Annie Hemingway), her stepdaughter Kate’s cousin. Constance, mind you, is in love with Hastings and he with her. And it is Hastings who becomes aware that the ‘inn’ is actually the Hardcastle family home, although he purposely decides not to enlighten his friend.

If only the enjoyable aspects of the production weren’t overshadowed by the dun-coloured set and the synthetic shine of almost all the costumes. As a backdrop to events, the evenly painted stone bricks standing for both the inn and the Hardcastle manor look as if they have been created with cheap computer software. As for the synthetic shine, it startles the eye adversely, although I found the division of the characters by dressing Kate and Marlow in green, with Constance, Hastings and Mrs Hardcastle in red, to be pleasing.

Bryony Lavery has provided an up-to-date prologue and epilogue which are disconcerting: Kate and Hardcastle open and close the play in front of the curtain as modern theatre ushers. Goldsmith’s own couplets would have been far preferable. And while I enjoyed Olly Fox’s compositions inserted into the play and sung by various members of the company, these impede the flow of action.

In all, Munby’s production is not nearly as funny as it should be and could be; a little judicious re-casting and removal of the modern additions would make all the difference.

Sarah Vernon © 2008

Originally published on R&V 25-03-08


2 comments on “Archive Review • SHE STOOPS TO CONQUER • Richmond Theatre [tour] • 2008

  1. beetleypete

    I wish they would produce more of these Restoration works for TV. I have seen so few of them, and would love to see them done well for a new generation to enjoy.
    Best wishes, Pete. x

    Liked by 1 person

    • First Night Design

      Yes, that would be so good. A good Restoration production is one of my favourite forms of comedy. I first saw Stoops as a teenager at the Garrick with Tom Courtenay, Juliet Mills and Trevor Peacock. I don’t think it was a particularly good one and I seem to remember my parents pulling it to pieces afterwards but I loved it and a lifelong devotion to Restoration began. I’ve only done The Beaux Stratagem but would love to have done more over the years.

      Liked by 2 people

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Music Hall Alice

All things Music Hall...

Those Who Will Not Be Drowned

Mainly about history.

Country Woman Paints

💙I moved to my new site. Link is below! Please come say hello

rebel notes

david rosenberg


theatre, film & tv past and present 2001-2008 & 2013...

The Immortal Jukebox

A Blog about Music and Popular Culture

Ace News Desk

This site has been designed to provide reports together with news events as they happen when they happen across the world

Dave Plummer Saxophonist

Wedding & Events Saxophonist - Leicestershire and Hampshire


Books, Reviews and bookish thoughts

Mallory James

Writer - Author - Historian

Iris Theatre

Supporting the next generation of professional theatre practitioners


The site for 'Madcap Mabel' - Mabel Normand


The site for and by adults with ADHD

Scandalous Women

theatre, film & tv past and present 2001-2008 & 2013...

The Naptime Author

Anne Clare explores the world of writing, one stolen minute at a time.


theatre, film & tv past and present 2001-2008 & 2013...


theatre, film & tv past and present 2001-2008 & 2013...


theatre, film & tv past and present 2001-2008 & 2013...

Woman the fuck up

Hear me roar. Writer, mother, actress, maker of beautiful things, witch. Not taking any more shit and neither should you.


Dedicated to Women Pilots of the Solent

Improbability Archivist

Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams, Doctor Who,

WCH On This Day

Working Class History anniversaries every day


Yoga classes and aromatherapy products in Andalusia, Spain.

LOIS BRYAN Photography and Digital Art

History And Other Thoughts

theatre, film & tv past and present 2001-2008 & 2013...


theatre, film & tv past and present 2001-2008 & 2013...

Catherine Meyrick

Historical Fiction with a touch of Romance

Secret Diary Of PorterGirl

The everyday adventures of the staff & students of Old College


Subject to change.

The Müscleheaded Blog

"Nothing Exceeds Like Superfluous Jejunity "

Women of History

theatre, film & tv past and present 2001-2008 & 2013...

Jon Danzig's World

theatre, film & tv past and present 2001-2008 & 2013...

The pallet Junkie

Hand crafted furniture

Dreaming Reality

If Existence is a dream, let us dream perfection....

Exploring best practice and research in sexual violence. A loud voice in the fight against victim blaming. Written and Managed by Jessica Eaton, Doctoral Researcher in Forensic Psychology

Teagan's Books

Now available: "Murder at the Bijou - Three Ingredients I"

Padre Steve's World: Official Home of the Anti-Chaps

Musings of a Progressive Realist in Wonderland

The History Woman's Blog

Just another weblog

Art by Jess Miller

sculpture and artwork

Jack Monroe

The #1 budget recipe website

surprise saffron

relishing in life's surprises, delighting in food, travel, art

Wish I Were Here

Journeys Through Place and Time

%d bloggers like this: