If there was a work to suit Northern Broadsides’ in-yer-face style than Oliver Goldsmith’s rumbunctious Restoration comedy is it.
And it does – it’s bawdy, bright, brazen, lusty, leering and laugh out loud funny with lots of music and singing. I loved it.
It’s full of trickery, womanly wiles, mischievousness and misunderstandings which characterises the genre.
In a nutshell – Young Marlow and his friend Hastings, wordly-wise, well-heeled Londoners – come up North a-wooing.
Marlow, who is shy in any woman’s company but the lower orders has been sent to court Miss Hardcastle, Hastings is in love with her friend Miss Neville, a ward of Miss Hardcastle’s mother who is determined she will marry her son Lumpkin to Miss Neville.
The two gents are hoodwinked into thinking the Hardcastle mansion is an inn and Miss Hardcastle a barmaid.
There are plots to elope, steal jewels and all manner of shenanigans in the battle of the sexes, country versus town, north versus south and gentry versus country bumpkins. No prizes for guessing who get the upper hands on who.
This is great fun from Northern Broadsides. The ensemble acting is of the highest quality and there are stand-out performances.
They dance, sing, play a range of instruments as well as act their silk stockings off.
Jon Trenchard plays Lumpkin as a dandy and a fop but with a mind like a steal trap – it’s a lethally funny characterisation of the play’s lynchpin.
Gilly Tompkins relishes the role of Mrs Hardcastle – who in leopard print silks and Vivienne Westwood bright orange wig is a country girl with prententious to grandeur.
This makes her slapstick, knockabout, fall down routine all the funnier.
Hannah Edwards has fun with the dual roles of Miss Hardcastle and the barmaid and Lauryn Redding’s excellent comic timing and sense of irony gave an edge to Miss Neville.
The production of the comedy of manners from the 18th century was given a modern touch which made it the more accessible. She Stoops to Conquer runs at the Stephen Joseph until Saturday October 25. Today at 1.30pm and 7pm. Tomorrow at 7.30pm. Saturday at 2.30pm and 7.30pm