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REVIEW:‘The Beaux’ Stratagem’ at Sierra Cinemas Wednesday

John Deaderick
Special to The Union
A scene from "The Beaux Stratagem," at Sierra Cinemas Wednesday.
Azriel LaMarca |

Know & Go

WHO: Sierra Cinemas Presents

WHAT: National Theatre Live: “‘The Beaux’ Stratagem”

WHEN: 3:30 p.m. Wednesday

WHERE: Sierra Cinemas, E. Main St. Grass Valley

TICKETS: $18 Adults, $15 Seniors, Children 12 and under & students with ID; Available online at http://www.sierratheaters.com/ntlive or at the Sierra Cinemas Box Office

What to do when you’re down on your luck and the wastrel life you’ve been leading has emptied your pockets?

Why, pursue a wealthy woman, of course!

Better yet, engage a friend in the scheme and double your pleasure!

George Farquhar’s 1707 comedy “The Beaux’ Stratagem” is a rollicking sexcapade full of broadly drawn characters whose names, in the literary fashion of the time, reveal their natures (Aimwell, Lady Bountiful, Squire Sullen).

The action and the language come fast and furious; the several competing schemes unfold swiftly under Simon Godwin’s crisp direction.

This production is really, really funny; the acting style overlarge as suits the Restoration Period from whence the play comes. Actors address the audience in keenly delivered asides and one never knows when a musician may appear and a song break out.

Still, there is pointed social commentary here: the idleness of the upper classes, the rights of women, the impossibility of divorce (Farquhar cheats a bit here, providing an implausible deus ex machina).

Though somewhat tame by the standards of today, the open display of sexual desire marks the end of an era in British theatre.

The 18th century introduces strict censorship of subject and language as it yields to priggishness.

Thus, we get words invented for the stage such as “zounds” and “egads” as substitutes for profanities.

Just think of the ubiquitous “freakin’” of today.

Delicious stereotypes — a romantic French officer, a lascivious priest — seem refreshing rather than offensive despite our PC social norms.

All the performers delight. This is especially true of Amy Morgan as a no-nonsense tavern wench and Pearce Quigley as the hilariously droll servant Scrub.

The physical and vocal delivery of Geoffrey Streatfeild as the plotting beau Archer approach perfection.

But, the evening belongs to Susannah Fielding as the frustrated-yet-moral Mrs. Sullen.

Ever radiant, with exquisite comic timing, she is, indeed, a force to be reckoned with. Brava!

John Deaderick is a local theatre artist and the author of Make Sweet the Minds of Men: Early Opera and Tragic Catharsis, available at Amazon.com

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