Reviewed by Donald Madgwick for The Croydon Advertiser
George Farquhar’s Restoration comedy, so called, actually belongs to the reign of Queen Anne, who herself had been preceded by four Post-restoration monarchs and the Glorious Revolution of 1688.
But why bother with labels when we can just sit back and enjoy a play as socially perceptive as it is witty, in a production as bouncy and exuberant as Richard Lloyd’s.
This is the second time the company have had a passage of arms with Farquhar’s play. In 1992 they did well with the facilities of their own premises. Now they have gone one better, making intelligent use of the expansive open-air setting and atmosphere of The Woodman pub, Woodmansterne.
The meticulously researched programme notes give a full historical background to play and author, even providing a glossary of such period colloquial terms as March beer and humming ale.
Costumes are of the highest standard, and the mere wearing of them seems to bring out in the cast a spirit of dash and devilment.
And none more so than in Tim Young who, as the earthy, rascally Sergeant Kite, gives as accomplished a performance as I have ever seen from him.
He gets right inside the skin of the resourceful rogue, carrying out his superior’s designs even to the extent of impersonating, in a bizarrely effective scene, an itinerant fortune-teller (Copper Knickers for Copernicus; what next?)
Richard Lloyd is an engaging Plume, with a huge armoury of charm to bamboozle the simple peasantry and ensnare the ladies.
This nimble-witted officer is balanced by Mike Brown as the other one, the boastful Brazen, who works in manic bursts of energy, like a firework that is always exploding into renewed life.
The rustics are a joy to behold; Daniel Ireson and Peter Bird as the easily duped Herefordshire duo Pearman and Appletree; Mark Taylor as the blockish Bullock; and especially Sinead Russell as Bullock’s sister Rose, whose knowing simplicity is her only weapon against the gallant attractions of the predator males.
Tatiana Allison repeats her old role of rich Melinda, sharing a great display of waspishness with Claire Andreadis, whose Silvia is perhaps the subtlest and most rounded portrayal of an evening not exactly short of them.
Chris Argles is her father, Justice Balance, a wise-foolish country gentleman of impressive gravity.
Technical Crew Details: