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Fast friends Tom Aimwell (played by Aaron Bartz, left) and Jack Archer (Fisher Neal) find plenty of follies as they fraternize in ‘The Beaux’ Stratagem,' directed by Kristine Holtvedt.
COURTESY PHOTO from Texas Shakespeare Festival

Articles

Farquhar’s farce a fun feature for Festival

By GARY PRICE
For the Kilgore News Herald

Having attended six productions of the Texas Shakespeare Festival in past years, my wife and I always come away astounded with the world-class quality acting and tremendous amount of work and coordination that goes into each play.

The ratio of participants' effort expended to income earned has to be one of the greatest among all professions. It's obviously a labor of love, and we should all be grateful as supporters.

British humor could have been one reason the colonists wanted to break off from the Mother Country. However, after seeing the festival’s performance of George Farquhar's 1707 comedy ‘The Beaux' Stratagem,’ I've concluded that humor across the pond may have gotten a bad rap.

An adaptation of this classic Restoration Comedy was started by Thornton Wilder in 1939, completed by Ken Ludwig in 2006 and is the basis for this TSF production. Though generally billed as a romance comedy, Farquhar also interjected social commentary on the government's treatment of familial wealth and married women.

The storyline has two fashionable but unlucky friends, Jack Archer and Tom Aimwell, who decide to mend their fortunes by disguising themselves and deceiving wealthy heiresses out of their money. But then Aimwell falls truly in love with one of them (Dorinda) and Archer strikes up a worldly friendship with Kate, Dorinda's sister-in-law, who is unhappily married to the perpetual souse Sullen.

The comedy commences and takes many twists and turns as it changes the characters' hearts, minds and lives along the way.

Particularly noteworthy were the several soliloquies, which added meaning, continuity, and direction to the story. Also, a fight scene toward the end added a touch of chivalry and flare, and it was good to see the womenfolk take up the sword for their men.

At Lady Bountiful's house, the dialogue between Mrs. Sullen, Scrub, and Lady Bountiful was particularly humorous and well done. Finally, the part of Foigard the priest was hilarious and unforgettable.

The play ends happily and with several lessons extant – don't hide behind disguises or trouble will surely follow; to find our true selves, we must be honest with others, especially those we love; and patience and tenacity can produce their rewards in the end.

In sum, a stellar production, superbly executed, successful ending, and good lessons taught – what more could a couple want on an evening out on the town?

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