Stars explained: * A production of no real merit with failings in all areas. ** A production showing evidence of not enough time or effort, or even talent, and which never breathes any real life into the piece – or a show lumbered with a terrible script. *** A good enjoyable show which might have some small flaws but has largely achieved what it set out to do.**** An excellent show which shows a great deal of work and stage craft with no noticeable or major flaws.***** A four star show which has found that extra bit of magic which lifts theatre to another plane.
Half stars fall between the ratings

Stooping with style and smiles

She Stoops to Conquer

Highbury Theatre Centre


AFTER several intense, dark and emotional dramas, Highbury players take to the stage with the much loved, She Stoops to Conquer.

This restoration comedy isn’t exactly falling apart, even though it was written in 1773 by Irish author Oliver Goldsmith, and its litany of mistakes and romantic trickery has endured without rebuilding while its clever plot remains a favourite for study around the world

It centres on the Hardcastle household and the arrival of two travellers who are on their way to meet the daughter Kate. En route they are tricked by her half-brother Tony Lumpkin into believing the house an Inn and on arrival there they treat it so, much to the disdain of the owners and the entire household.

Everyone in this large cast seemed to revel in the opportunity to play up and take to the stage in their colourful 17th century finery.

The twists and turns in the play pretty much can be found in many a contemporary rom com that has an element of mistaken or assumed identity and the Highbury Players negotiated the detail of these very well, all under the direction of Ian Appleby.

Jack Hobbis played Marlow, one of the house guests and the suitor to Kate, and did a fine job of displaying the dual personality of his character, nervous and tongue-tied with upper class women, such as Kate, yet full of charm and confidence with the lower classes, or, in this case when Kate impersonates a serving maid.

Kate was played by Katie McDermott who bristled, shimmied and beamed as the mischievous daughter taking every opportunity to involve the audience in her asides and bosomly performance.

The half son Tony Lumpkin was played by Simon Baker a role that seemed to suit him down to the ground as he delivered an energetic and comical performance as the irreverent heir to household.

The second love interests in the plot are Cousin Constance and Marlow’s co traveller Mr Hastings played by Louise farmer and Mark Mulkeen respectively and both delivered highly enjoyable support performances.

Owner of the manor is Mr Hardcastle played by Richard Ham who clearly had to effectively pile on the years in order to achieve the character of an older man frustrated by the outrageous behaviour of his houseguests. His wife was played by Alison Cahill who again shone as the bored captor of the country home caught up in the antics of her younger counterparts.

In support were another ten Highbury players in a variety of roles who all added colour and vibrancy to this well performed play.

With some nice lighting effects by Andrew Noakes and simple but effective staging by Malcom Robertshaw this enduring drama is well worth seeing, if only  to appreciate how originally good the writing is for its time and how so many other comedies have borrowed from it over the years. To 28-06-14

Jeff Grant


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