She Stoops To Conquer
At the Stanley until Nov. 18
Tickets: 604-687-1644, artsclub.com
Another piece of gorgeous eye-candy is this Arts Club production of She Stoops To Conquer by 18th century Irish playwright Oliver Goldsmith. The titular “She” is Kate Hardcastle (Jennifer Mawhinney) and a more effervescent, beautiful Kate is hard to imagine. Mawhinney, who makes her entrance in a pastel confection of pink silk, lace and ribbons by Rebekka Sorensen, sparkles like a bottle of good bubbly; her blonde ringlets bounce and her eyes flash mischievously as she set a tender trap for suitor Mr. Marlow (Luc Roderique) by pretending to be a lowborn parlour maid.
Norman Browning is rough-around-the-edges country gentleman Mr. Hardcastle, mistaken by Marlow to be an innkeeper. Browning is full of bluster, but his character’s relationship with Kate is so liberal and loving, we indulge the old gent—especially when he finally loses patience with Marlow.
Leslie Jones brings her formidable comedic skill to Mrs. Hardcastle as she thumps about the stage with an outrageous feathered thing on her head; Mrs. Hardcastle’s absurd makeup is so harsh it renders her positively hawkish. Jones really hits her stride in an all-out, hyperventilating, gravel-voiced rant when the old gal’s casket of jewelry goes missing.
For a splendid example of turning a small role into gold, go no further than Josh Drebit as Diggory. His goofy characterization deservedly stole the show several times on opening night.
Chris Cochrane is splendidly cast as the appropriately named Tony Lumpkin, whom Cochrane plays as a ninny but who, in the end, turns out to be quite clever. Director Dean Paul Gibson gives Tony the last word and Cochrane boisterously brings down the curtain.
Gibson keeps the pace moving merrily and with the help of set designer David Roberts offers us a stylish take on this 200-year-old old romp. It remains, however, in spite of all that style and all that talent, a bit of an old chestnut.