Northern Broadsides’ touring version of Oliver Goldsmith’s Restoration classic, directed by Conrad Nelson, is a wild, totally over the top, breath-taking production.
Jon Trenchard, as Tony Lumpkin, pirouetted frenziedly round the stage looking like a young Boy George on speed, causing chaos to everyone around him.
Gilly Tompkins was his doting mother, looking ready to transfer to Jack & The Beanstalk with Christmas round the corner.
A be-wigged, snarling Howard Chadwick made a perfect Hardcastle who invites the son of his friend, Charles Marlow (Andrew Price), to his house in the hope he will marry his daughter, Kate. As the young Marlow, Oliver Gomm is deceived by Tony who persuades him he is at an inn, whereupon he mistakes Kate for a barmaid.
This turns out to be fortuitous for Marlow as he is frightened of high class women but aggressively rampant with working girls and Kate prefers rampant men.
Realising her best chance of winning him is pretend she is indeed a lowly barmaid, Hannah Edwards, playing Kate, ‘stoops to conquer’ by adapting a credible Scouse accent.
Doubtless she will have perfected Geordie, Glaswegian, Brum, ad infinitum as the play tours the country.
Lauren Redding and Guy Lewis made up the ‘B’ list love interest as Kate’s best friend, Miss Neville, and Marlow’s companion, Hastings.
As well as the enthusiasm and professionalism of the cast, what made this production outstanding were the many interludes of Irish folk music (all instruments played by the cast) and also the beautifully crafted set which, with the mounted stags heads and perching pigeons, took the audience back into another century.
With its send-up of English snobbery, this play is timeless and this was a particularly exhilarating production as one would only expect from Northern Broadsides.