The Recruiting Officer by George Farquhar
Next Stage Theatre Company
The Mission Theatre, Bath
Thursday 11 July 2013
First performed in 1706 at Drury Lane, Farquhar’s The Recruiting Officer is a Restoration comedy featuring traditional stock characters and, at times, bawdy humour. Based on Farquhar’s own experiences as a recruiting officer in Shrewsbury the play follows the antics of two officers – the philanderer Plume and the wimpy and comedic Brazen and not to mention a host of women from Shrewsbury.
Next Stage Theatre Company’s production, (which coincides with their production of Timberlake Wertenbaker’s Our Country’s Good), has been staged as close to the production performed by convicts in 1789 as possible. There is minimal staging and props and a good use of split-stage lighting to represent the various locations of the play. The costumes were quite stunning and realistic.
The script, as you would expect, is very much of its time. With cheeky asides to the audience (which raised many a laugh) and complex intermingling plot lines. Every opportunity to exploit the comedy in the script was used to its full potential, with much naughtiness thrown in for good measure.
The company performed the piece well and there were many stand-out performances but particular credit should be given for the show-stealing Joshua Ward whose portrayal of the slightly camp and cowardly Brazen kept the audience amused throughout. Anna-Fleur Rawlinson gave a well-rounded and believable performance as Sylvia, and Lydia Cook performed beautifully as Melinda.
Fans of Restoration Comedy will enjoy this show as will anyone who is intrigued to see the full version of the play-within-a-play staged in Our Country’s Good.
The Recruiting Officer can be seen on: Sat 13 July, Wed 17 July, Fri 19 July at 7:30pm and on Sat 20 July at 2.30pm.
For more information and to book tickets visit the Mission Theatre’s website: www.missiontheatre.co.uk