She Stoops To Conquer at the RoseCultureTheatre
On the Rose’s huge stage is a set like an antique hunting lodge: the heads of stags and boars are mounted on the walls; everything is wood panelled, the backdrop a huge burnt ochre treescape, set with several doors. Played out in this setting is Oliver Goldsmith’s comedy, almost 250 years old, about upper class families marrying off their children and the children falling prey to pranks and misunderstandings.
Aptly, for the comedy of manners/farce/satire blend abroad, larger-than-life silliness invades the whole production, as the cast in full physical flow lurch about the stage and eke every laugh out of Goldsmith’s crude wit and tortuous plot. Oliver Gomm flips between modesty and impudence, the two qualities that are mentioned over and over – traits that are important in the play -while John Trenchard, as Tony, squeals and prances with a piccolo and blows raspberries with wanton abandon.
Director Conrad Nelson has incorporated plenty of live music, performed with ease by the cast. One extended drinking song, accompanied variously by piano, piccolo, tuba and violin, sounds as if it has come straight out of Horrible Histories – delightfully silly and crude.
All the women are burdened with towering wigs, swirling beehives that wobble and threaten to topple at any second. The striking, vivid aesthetic (designs by Jessica Worrall) is in evidence in the costumes too: 18th century frills and finery are made hyper-real with fluorescent colours, garish pinks and yellows, that suit the play’s comic bombast.
At over two hours long, it would be nice if the many misunderstandings were cleared up earlier, but Northern Broadsides’ production is a fun, energetic and asinine romp.
She Stoops To Conquer is on at the Rose Theatre until 20th September 2014, for further information or to book visit here.