Review: Lane Cove Theatre Company presents ‘She Stoops to Conquer’

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Words || Georgia Drinan

From the very first moment the lights went up, Lane Cove Theatre Company’s production of ‘She Stoops To Conquer,’ (written by Oliver Goldsmith and directed by Peter Farmer) completely and utterly won me over. Its whimsical approach, delightful humour and exceptional execution as a production make it a credit to the Lane Cove Theatre Company, and a show that is well worth watching.

She Stoops to Conquer is described as ‘a classic bawdy romp,’ and gives us the story of a wealthy country family- Mr Hardcastle, his wife, their daughter Kate, and Tony Lumpkin, who is Mrs Hardcastle’s spoilt son from a previous marriage. Mr Hardcastle invites Charles Marlow, the son of a rich Londoner, and his close acquaintance Mr Hastings to his house to meet his daughter in the hopes of a potential marriage. When the two young men become lost, Tony Lumkin plays a mischievous prank and convinces the two men that Mr Hardcastle’s house is an inn. Mr Hardcastle treats the two men as guests, and they treat him, in turn, as in innkeeper- a miscommunication which has disastrously funny consequences.

‘She Stoops To Conquer,’ is the ultimate comedy of manners, and it delivers on all fronts- mistaken identities, whip-crackingly witty dialogue and a generous serve of class commentary all combine to create a well-rounded play which is surprisingly accessible, despite being written in 1773. The Production does an impressive job of staying relevant to a modern audience, which is no small challenge for a play based on satirizing the manners of Upper-Class society in 18th Century England; but even despite the absence of context for some audience members the satire is as sharp as ever and delivered in a way that makes it not only understandable, but also preserves the nuances of Goldsmith’s social commentary. The play managed to sustain a whimsical atmosphere without lacking depth, and was extremely enjoyable to watch. 

The show was superbly well acted- Ross Holohan is a standout as Charles Marlow, and the delightful chemistry between Marlow and Kate Hardcastle (stunningly brought to life by Katie Regan) brought charisma and a lovely sense of groundedness to the show. Equally delightful were the interactions between Mrs Hardcastle and her son Tony, conveyed with energy and wonderful humour by Alison Grace and Simon Emmerson. A special mention is also owed to the ensemble cast, who combined excellent physical comedy and spot-on comedic timing very well.

The production design itself was both interesting and appropriate. The set created the feel of an old fashioned sitting room, which was given considerable atmosphere by the well-chosen set pieces- special mention definitely goes to the large painted portrait of Mrs Hardcastle’s first husband which presides over the sitting room, and a rather incredible stuffed pheasant, for bringing flair and personality to the set. Elements of set, costume and props combined perfectly with the lighting and soundtrack to create a captivating and dynamic performance.

This was my first experience with any show from the Lane Cove Theatre Company, but after this I can say that it certainly won’t be my last! She Stoops To Conquer has two more shows, running on Friday the 25th and Saturday the 26th of May at 7.30pm. I strongly suggest you take full advantage of the next few opportunities to see this show before it closes; Sydney has a wonderful array of locally sourced talent, and the amateur theatre scene has wonderful experiences to offer- with the bonus of being closer and more affordable that a lot of other Sydney Arts events! If you’d like to support the arts in Sydney, Lane Cove Theatre Company’s production of ‘She Stoops To Conquer,’ is a funny, charming and all-round enjoyable way to do just that!

Tickets can be found here: https://www.trybooking.com/book/event?eid=358161&

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