By Oliver Goldsmith
17th – 22nd July 2012
She Stoops to Conquer, is a late eighteenth-century play written by the Irishman Oliver Goldsmith, and can be described as a comedy of manners which essentially ridicules the way of life, social customs, etc. of a certain segment of society, in this case the upper class (although Goldsmith himself described it as a “laughing Comedy”) in which the high born characters make fools of themselves whilst trying to preserve their dignity, when in actuality they behave in ways more fitting to the lower classes. It is a 1770’s romp and is all about riotous goings-on essentially around a family hearth.
The main plot starts with Young Marlow (the suitor) and his friend George Hastings who are a kind of ‘Hooray Henry’ double act – well at least initially, getting lost on their way to the Hardcastle manor. Stopping by a local tavern called “The Three Pigeons,” they come upon a man named Tony Lumpkin who recognizes them and decides to play a practical joke on them. Tony directs them to Hardcastle Manor and tells them that it is in fact an Inn – which of course it very much is not. Completely fooled, the two friends treat everyone in the household with great disdain, despite this we still warm to them as they treat their host’s home with little more than contempt, i.e. throwing orange peel on the carpet and lounging on the furniture. Meanwhile, Mr Hardcastle knows them to be the suitor + friend of his great pal Charles Marlow Senior. As the wealthy country gentleman wishes to marry off his daughter Kate to his very respectable friend Charles Marlow son, mishaps & confusion ensues. Unfortunately, in addition to the status quo confusion, the Young Marlow has a very peculiar character trait; he only feels comfortable with women of the lower classes. Kate recognizes this and decides to “stoop to conquer” him by playing the role of a barmaid in order to win him. The other major subplot revolves around Constance Neville, Mrs. Hastings’ ward, and Tony Lumpkin, her son. Wishing to keep Constance’s jewels in the family, Mrs Hardcastle presses Constance to marry Lumpkin who point blank refuses to play along – well they both do. Tony just wants to be with tavern barmaid Bett Bouncer and to have fun in the Three Pigeons. Through a series of mis-adventures and frolics, culminating in Tony finally, finding out he is of age, he receives his inheritance and is released from having to marry, Constance is then able to have her jewels as well and claim her true love Hastings. Both couples then get engaged and all ends well.
Cast as follows:
Mr. Hardcastle Neil Harris
Mrs. Hardcastle Samantha Comfort
Kate Hardcastle Bridget Collins
Constance Neville Maria Jones
Tony Lumpkin Ollie Stone
Sir Charles Marlow Derek Bethman-Hollweg
Young Marlow Alex Ezrati
Mr. George Hastings Matt Johnson
Kerry Francis-Watts, Sarah Molyneux, Kate Awcock, Carol Smith,
Don Foreman, Chris Gutteridge, Steve Batchelor
Louise Van-Manen, Catherine Allen, David Rayner