Guest review by Miles Harrison at Vancouver Vantage, an online source for Vancouver-centric events, ideas, and outdoor activities.
The sign of truly great play is the test of time.
Oliver Goldsmith’s She Stoops to Conquer has endured three centuries; it now takes hold of Vancouver theatre audiences at the Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage. Nary a sign of comedic oxidization on Goldsmith’s pen in this lyrical comedy of manners, which has brought us such famous phrases as “Ask me no questions, I’ll tell you no lies.”
First impressions were of the genius set design which was the hand to the lighting’s glove. It stood out as functional, flexible, and it thoughtfully enabled the direction of Dean Paul Gibson to shine through. Ne’er a glance of light from astage set mine eyes in such a wonder — especially the scene where the young Charles Marlow (Luc Roderique) and his best mate George Hastings (Jay Hindle) are led afoul by the juvenile lout Tony Lumpkin. Here the set is used to map out their confusing trail to the Hardcastle House which they are led to believe is merely a country Inn, thus setting up the errors.
Gibson’s “judicious trimming” allowed the actors sense of comedy a chance to convey Goldsmith’s intended humour.
In the case of Chris Cochrane’s Tony Lumpkin, Gibson’s strategy works well but was outshone by a well understood performance by Langara alumni Leslie Jones. Jones’ Mrs. Hardcastle ‘cougar’ character had us anticipating her every scene. Mrs. Hardcastle is eventually revealed as the story’s goat and remains the only character unhappy with the conclusion.
A very solid Mr. Hardcastle (Norman Browning) can also not go overlooked. His staunch soberness throughout ensures that the gimmick is sustained and the seeming ease with which he accomplishes this is not to be diminished.
Overall, a well-worth evening that entertained adults of all ages. The Arts Club Theatre’s She Stoops to Conquer continues at the Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage through November 18. Check the website for schedule and tickets.
All photos by David Cooper.