A Fine Piece of Theatre
The Beaux’ Stratagem
Washington City Paper: Reviews at a Glance
Nov. 24, 2006
George Farquhar’s sprightly 1707 comedy serves up a minister moonlighting as a highway robber, an impoverished aristocrat masquerading as his richer older brother (and another gent posing as his servant), a drunken sot of a country squire, and a boisterous creature named Lady Bountiful, whose amateur medical enthusiasms seem to be taking quite a toll on the trusting local peasants. And then there’s the peerless Kate Sullen (Veanne Cox) who makes the play a perfect lemon tart.
This adaptation, begun by Thornton Wilder and finished by farceur Ken Ludwig, comes flavored with plenty of zing, but there’s a genuine tone of sweetness to even things out.
Cox and the other principals are first-rate, and Kahn’s embarrassingly well-appointed cast features a raft of DC-based favorites in smaller roles – Floyd King, Colleen Delany, Hugh Nees, plus Nancy Robinette, everyone’s favorite batty dame, as Lady Bountiful.
The original talky beast of a play has been severely streamlined, its sensibilities modernized and its style updated. It’s quick, funny, and still capable of taking a swipe or two at convention.
And at its very heart it’s still alive to the real poignancies lived by women caught in glamorous empty marriages like that of Kate Sullen – which makes it by my lights a pretty fine piece of theatre.