The Recruiting Officer by George Farquhar
Performed during 1992
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Reviewed by Donald Madgwick for The Croydon Advertiser
An exuberantly Irish touch was brought to the post-Restoration scene by George Farquhar, and this has been admirably caught in Richard Lloyd's production.
The Youth and Social Centre has been virtually converted into a recruitment centre. Even the Gents is placarded with exhortations to join up.
On a long platform down the centre of the auditorium, with the audience ranged in rows on either side, Lloyd himself, as the rascally Sergeant Kite, harangues the unwitting citizens of Shrewsbury.
That part of the action which takes place on the stage is necessarily sideways on to the audience, which is not too good for the comfort of our necks.
The production is one of the Workshop's best efforts, swaggering, swashbuckling and acted with terrific commitment in Queen Anne costumes and uniforms.
It must be said that the closing stages of the play drag a little, and I feel a few cuts would have tightened things up
But that does not detract from the overall effect which, to the accompaniment of Kevin Gibbon's martial drum and the massed voices of Over the Hills and Far Away is a distinct feather in the cap of the company.
The genial Farquhar generally makes even his dubious characters sound attractive. This is borne out by Paul M Ford as a beguiling Plume, the oil to Kite's vinegar, with plenty of sex appeal to entrap Kimberley Argles' deliciously roguish Rose.
Chris Argles gives the second recruiting officer Brazen all the heightened colours of a character from one of Ben Jonson's 'humours' comedies.
Lisa Boniface is the very spirit of mischief as the wealthy Silvia who wins Plume's love in male attire. Bruce Montgomery, as her father Justice Balance, is an innately sympathetic character who wins our respect.
The bumpy courtship of Melinda and Mr Worthy is carried on by Tatiana Allison, tart and waspish, and a subdued, wimpish Simeon Dawes.
The big supporting cast work well as a team, with a double helping of notable performances from Nathan Moughtin, who only a week earlier was braving the complexities of Beckett over at SLTC. Busy fellows, these amateur actors.
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