Love a Good Play: The Beaux Stratagem
National Theatre, June 6, 2015
This is a right old romp of a comedy and unbelieveably first performed in 1707. That’s a bloody long time ago and yet it remains marvellously vibrant and fun.
I’m going to be honest here — this type of set piece play is not my favourite thing but I was found myself laughing a lot as the play picks up speed and the farce take over. Also seeing the joy on @bridgetbythebridge’s face as she guffawed throughout, I can recognise quality.
In a nutshell, two gentlemen who’ve squandered their fortune leave London with the stratagem to pretend to be a Lord and his manservant, find and woo a lady of means and acquire her fortune to secure their futures. The problem is they actually fall in love. What starts cynically ends in a rather romantic celebration of marriage (and divorce).
There is rather a large cast of additional characters too — the French comte, the Irish priest masquarading as a Belgian chaplain, the Innkeeper and his daughter, the highwaymen, the husband and his mother… Simon Godwin does a marvellous job directing the right level of control and chaos to occur and each of the cast get to shine.
Super performances from Geoffrey Streatfeild and Susannah Fielding as the main lovers, with a special mention for Pearce Quigley who was quite brilliant as the butler.
Super special call out for Lizzie Clachan’s set design which allowed for speedy and very clever set changes. Loved this.
Once again the National provides style, supremely performed by cast and musicians alike.
4/5. A right old romp.