She Stoops To Conquer
DIRECTOR: Jamie Lloyd
CAST: Steve Pemberton, Harry Hadden-Paton, Cush Jumbo, Katherine Kelly and Sophie Thompson
CLASSIFICATION: PG 13
RUNNING TIME: 181 minutes
She stoops to make one weary. This play is long. One would think that because there is live theatre on a cinema screen, certain things would be sped up.
But you’re expected to wait for a quarter of an hour for things that happen in real-life theatre, such as the time spent waiting for the theatre to be full before the production starts, or even the interval.
After two hours of She Stoops To Conquer, there is a 15-minute interval before the five-minute talk – which is in fact called the real interval – between a hostess and the director, Jamie Lloyd.
Then the second act starts, and by then even the intricate 18th century costumes have lost their appeal.
This is the final show in the National Theatre Live series at Cinema Nouveau and the producers planned to go out with a bang; a very camp bang, by Lloyd’s admission.
Thanks to some of the cast, the Oliver Goldsmith-penned comedy is quite funny.
Mr Hardcastle (Pemberton) accepts a visit from a suitor, Charles (Hadden-Paton), who has never met his daughter, Kate (Kelly). While on his way to meet his soon-to-be wife, Charles gets lost and has to stay at an inn for the night.
He is purposefully sent in the wrong direction – by his future wife’s brother – where he ends up at the Hardcastle residence. Charles has no idea that the “innkeeper” is Hardcastle and treats him badly, as you would a servant in those days.
On the other hand, Hardcastle comes this close to blowing a fuse because of Charles’s lack of manners. After all, Hardcastle deems himself to be a man who likes everything old: old manners, old friends and an old wife.
Mrs Hardcastle (Thompson) gets the most laughs out of the London audience, but she’s actually one of the weakest links, who just never says goodbye.
When she speaks, her voice fluctuates between deep and high-pitched and often she just sounds like a schizophrenic pirate. She, along with just about everyone on the stage, seems to take great pleasure in peppering their speech with the phrase “tête-à-tête”.
The ensemble cast sings a lot and it sounds lovely, but not after three hours. The revolving stage is a nice touch and seamlessly moves us from mansion to pub in an instant.
This NTL production would be nice for people who love theatre and are familiar with the play. Other than that, you may want to give it a miss.