Saturday, 26 September 2009

She Stoops To Conquer at The Greenwich Theatre

The Greenwich Theatre front of house is run like the ideal provincial theatre: bright, modern, well-staffed. The theatre itself is proscenium with a semi-protruding stage, as if aspiring to be in the round. This amiable and at times improvised production of Oliver Goldsmith's Beaumarchais-contemporary satire She Stoops To Conquer uses this invitation to informality well, often winking at the audience and occasionally co-opting the (un)lucky ones in the front row.

The Mappa Mundi Company are a classic rep touring company taking high-quality theatre on the road all points between London venues such as Greenwich and their native Wales. The play seems well-embedded in this company. It's fast and fluent (although it also has the tell-tale traces of the well worn - lines delivered in just too brisk a manner for a new audience to really absorb them).

It hardly matters. Although She Stoops To Conquer is not a physical comedy it really does require some acting along with its reading. I particularly liked Liam Tobin's Mr Hardcastle, buffo but not buffoon and Edward Harrison's effevescent Tony Lumpkin as his son. Indeed all parts are well-taken and, not unreasonably, the wider press has particularly delighted in Kathryn Dimery's pungent northern cipher of Mrs Hardcastle. However I couldn't help feeling that Mali Tudno Jones's Kate was perhaps rather glazed. This is a fine play where, for all the twist-n-turn inequities of the plot, everyone is more or less equal at the outset and by the end. Rousing, moral and uplifting.

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