The Beaux’ Stratagem was like a pantomime for “posh people”…okay… I feel terrible writing that…where’s the door to the theatre blogger’s dog house? I guess my reasoning behind my “pantomime” jibe is the typical ingredients of breaking of the fourth wall, live music/singing/dancing, stereotypes, even the audience clapping during and after scenes. Yes! Calm down, smarty pants! Most of these can also be found in the West End, hence my dislike towards musicals, so perhaps my opening line may appear extreme or unjust. I do write this post with a good, open and honest heart…plus it grabbed your attention.
Feeling like a small child, I recited my alphabet backwards towards my seat in Row C. Some people (and their wallets) love life on
death front row, I can conclude I would rather sit in the high heavens than traumatise my neck and back again. They are literally demanding compensation as I type. However, the sacrifice was totally worth it. Like every play on the Olivier stage, you know the set is a visual delight. An opened doll’s house or a towering Transformer, it was a three storey beauty! Popping out paintings, dangling chandeliers and rotating decorated panels, it was literally “all hands on deck” from Boniface’s inn into Lady Bountiful’s house.
The ‘Beaux’: Mr Aimwell and Mr Archer, two charming, dissolute young men who have blown their fortunes in giddy London. Shamed and debt-ridden, they flee to provincial Lichfield. Their ‘Stratagem’: to marry for money
National Theatre, 2015
The Beaux’ Stratagem was a charming production. I laughed, giggled, chuckled, snorted, clapped and even sang to “The Trifle Song”. You secretly desire the elaborate costumes, especially Mrs Sullen’s. During an interview, Susannah Fielding (who plays Mrs Sullen) suggests her tailored costume as armour, portrays her frustration and constrains her position due to the unhappy marriage. Fielding continues to point out that when her character meets Archer, her dress sense begins to loosen and BANG BANG into the Ann Summers’ room (okay those are my words..damn listening to music whilst blogging). The Beaux’ Stratagem makes you want to travel back to 1707 in hope you’re find your very own beau. Having the hots for a certain actor was also slightly problematic to my ovaries (don’t fret I didn’t act upon it…Wikipedia crashed and burnt that dream with the word “spouse”!)
It was a production for all fun and games. It wasn’t an emotionally charged performance, but based itself on cheery adrenaline and the audience’s laugh-o-meter. A laugh out loud moment belongs to the Irishman pretending to be a French priest! Hats off to Jamie Beamish for performing with the accent tongue twisters! It was wonderful, and dare I write, a relief to simply sit back and enjoy the madness. For some reason, I did feel like a slight plonker for flying solo to this production. A lively family-oriented interval energy ripped the crowd into chatter, laughter and discussion. For little old me, I was left with my notebook (cue the violin). The show caters towards a different “type” of audience and needs to be enjoyed within the company of others and feeds on our laughter.
Our humiliation will be your entertainment
For a theatre blogger, The Beaux’ Stratagem was a pleasurable theatre snack. It lacked the punch to the heart. I wasn’t “moved” by it, but I did leave the theatre and walked along the South Bank with a spring in my step like this…
Check out The Beaux’ Stratagem at the National Theatre (ends 20th September) here