Beaux' Stratagem, National Theatre review: Culture Whisper says ★★★★★
The Beaux Stratagem is an odd beast: although studded with the bawdy repartee of the Restoration comedy, it also trains its eyes on the issue of unhappy marriage. Its sympathy for an unhappy wife, and avocation of a mutually consensual divorce, was shocking immoral in its time. Faced with this tragic/comic dichotomy, director Simon Godwin struggles to present a coherent whole. The rompish antics feel muted, a bloodlessness exacerbated by the enormous dimensions of Lizzie Clachan’s set. Scenes that would benefit from intimacy are blown across too much air. Nevertheless, Farquhar’s script is glittering enough that it seldom ceases to entertain, and everything warms up considerably when matters reach a head in the second act. There are some nice touches, such as a live folk band, and a talented cast give it their all. Susannah Fielding deserves especial praise as Lady Sullen, balancing a gallant wit with despair at her unhappy match. It’s not the knock-out night at the theatre it could have been, but it is a rewarding slow-burner.
The Beaux’ Stratagem play: a colloquial comedy for our time
Centering on the fortunes of two young protagonists who have encountered tough times, the play ties together the ideas of money and marriage- an issue which continues to provoke debate and discussion today.
First staged by The National Theatre Company in 1970 starring Maggie Smith, Robert Stephens and Ronald Pickup, this is a play which offers a panoply of parts. This cast of this revival is equally promising, with Samuel Barnett (known for playing Posner is the stage and film versions of The History Boys) heading a cast of experienced stage stars.
Director Simon Godwin: National Theatre Treasure
Simon Godwin returns to The National after helming Strange Interlude, and more recently directing Man and Superman, one of the headline productions of Nicholas Hytner's final season as artistic director of the National. Man and Superman also takes a witty look at marriage and domesticity, ideas which also permeate Farquhar’s play, so it’s worth looking for some interesting parallels between the productions.
|What||The Beaux' Stratagem, National Theatre|
|Where||National Theatre, South Bank, London, SE1 9PX | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Waterloo (underground)|
19 May 15 – 19 Jul 15, 7:30 PM – 9:30 PM
|Website||Click here for more information and to book via the National Theatre|