Review: She Stoops to Conquer

By John Nathan, February 2, 2012

Olivier, National Theatre, London

In these times of austerity, it appears the National has made the decision to boost the nation's morale with some very funny comedy. Although Jamie Lloyd's revival of Oliver Goldsmith's 1773 play is not as hilarious as Richard Bean's One Man, Two Guvnors, it, too, features an opportunist cheeky chap in the form of the uncouth Tony Lumpkin (played by David Fynn like an 18th-century John Belushi), who gets the better of his betters through sheer bravado.

And, although the show is not as satisfying as Hytner's recent production of London Assurance, it, too, features a crisis of confidence, personified by Marlow (Harry Hadden-Paton) who can seduce any girl as long as she is his social inferior. Which is why the daughter of his gentleman host has to pretend she is from the lower classes in order to win his heart, or, if you prefer, why she has to stoop to conquer.

Lloyd's production needs to iron out the occasional longueurs, but this is a beautifully put-together show that feels thoroughly modern. It is also surprisingly moving when the mayhem subsides to give way to matters of the heart.

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Last updated: 11:59am, February 2 2012