She Stoops to Conquer

Written on June 30th, 2015

An 18th Century Sit-Com

She Stoops to Conquer has all the ingredients of a modern day sit-com, plus the comedy of mocking the foibles of the 1700s.  It’s always funny when the audience knows that a character has assumed a different identity, and because it is set in England in the 18th century, the class system is the root of their problems.  The disparity in fortune and education between the wealthy gentry and the working class creates the humour in this play. She Stoops

Mr. Richard Hardcastle (Joseph Ziegler), a wealthy landowner, arranges for his daughter Kate (Maev Beaty) to meet Charles Marlow (Brad Hodder), the son of a rich Londoner, hoping the pair will marry. Kate seems pleased with the idea.  Unfortunately, Marlow is nervous around upper-class women, yet very comfortable around working-class girls. Kate realizes she will have to pretend to be “common”, or Marlow will be too awkward to pursue her. Thus Kate “stoops to conquer”, by posing as a maid, hoping to put Marlow at his ease so he falls for her.

Marlow sets out for the Hardcastle’s manor with his friend, George Hastings (Tyrone Savage), who is in love with Miss Constance Neville (Sara Farb), another young woman who lives with the Hardcastles.  During the journey the two men become lost and stop at a pub for directions. There they meet Tony Lumpkin (Karack Osborn).  Tony is the son of the new Mrs. Dorothy Hardcastle (Lucy Peacock), stepbrother to Kate.  As a prank, Tony tells the pair that there is an inn down the road where they could stay, but in fact sends them to his home, the Hardcastles’ manor.  Thus the fun begins.  The two young men are expected, of course, but they believe they are at an inn, and therefore are ordering Mr. Hardcastle around, appearing very rude to their host.

After seeing this year’s production of The Diary of Anne Frank, it is so interesting to see these actors in very different roles:  Ziegler and Peacock play Anne’s parents and Farb plays Anne in that production, which is so heart wrenching.  Here they have the opportunity to show their comedic skills.  Even the language is amusing, with profanity such as “egad” tossed around.

Lucy Peacock’s hair gets a laugh when she enters, and she is hilarious as the tightwad second wife.  Karack Osborn is equally funny as her son, Tony Lumpkin, the lazy trouble-maker of the family.  Maev Beaty shows class as Kate, even when conniving to win a husband.  Sara Farb is charming as Constance Neville, as is Lally Cadeau as Pimple, the servant.

The set is interesting – the revolving stage becomes the Hardcastle’s home, their garden, and the local pub.

This is a charming, light comedy, well cast with great comedic actors.  It offers an enjoyable evening in Stratford.

She Stoops to Conquer continues in repertoire until October 10 at the Avon Theatre, Stratford.  Tickets are available at the Stratford Festival at 1-800-567-1600, or check

Photo: Maev Beaty as Miss Kate Hardcastle in She Stoops to Conquer. Photo by David Hou.

She Stoops to Conquer
By Oliver Goldsmith
Directed by Martha Henry
Performed by Lucy Peacock, Joseph Ziegler, Maev Beaty, et al.
Produced by Stratford Festival
Avon Theatre, Stratford
May 16 to October 10, 2015
Reviewed by Mary Alderson

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