Directed with a keen eye for detail, witty designs for costume and set, and a fluent choreographic style by Amanda Knott, this is the story of a London rake sent to the country to woo his the daughter of his father’s friend, Mr Hardcastle. But our Mr Marlow is a rum cove – tongue tied and awkward with his social equals but arrogant and lusty with those he considers to be of an inferior class.
With his friend Hastings, he arrives after a long day in a coach and four at an inn, much nearer to his destination than he realises. There he meets Tony Lumpkin, the half brother of the girl he is supposed to be courting.
Tony has no time for the fripperies and affectations of the city, and soon fools the two young men into believing that Mr Hardcastle’s house, close by, is an inn where the landlord has social pretensions.
So Mr Marlow greets his would-be father-in-law as an alehouse keeper and his daughter as a barmaid.
There are a couple of sub-plots involving Hastings and the niece of the second Mrs Hardcastle, and of Tony and his inheritance in this fast moving and complicated story of mistaken identity, buffoonery and, eventually, a sort of love.
The Creative Cow version, adapted for a cast of nine, is a delightful creation, full of fun, energy, colour and music.
Company founders Katherine Senior and Jonathan Parish (as an age-conscious Mrs Hardcastle and a wry Mr Hastings) are joined by two young actors making their professional debuts. Joe Bateman is a terrific Lumpkin, with George Jennings as the cripplingly shy (and outrageously arrogant) Marlow.
Leonie Spilsbury (a dead ringer for the young Meryl Streep) brings a nice modern edge to Kate Hardcastle, and David Sumner is her apoplectically offended father.
It’s another terrific production by this versatile company, and will be performed at Fisherton Mill in Salisbury from Wednesday 23rd to Friday 25th April, and returns to Devon on 27th May.
For full details of the tour, visit the website, www.creativecow.co.uk
Footnote. Goldsmith has a lovely quote in the opening moments of his play – one that’s sometimes just as relevant today to the weekenders and incomers convinced they are doing the country folk a great favour by moving in.
“I wonder why London cannot keep its own fools at home! In my time, the follies of the town crept slowly among us, but now they travel faster than a stage-coach. Its fopperies come down not only as inside passengers, but in the very basket,” says Mr Hardcastle.