Wednesday, March 25, 2009

A farce, p'raps

Mistaken identity has been a fruitful plot device for centuries, and one classic example of this is Oliver Goldsmith's play She Stoops to Conquer. Being a great favorite of the London dramatic scene, Goldsmith amused audiences when this play debuted in 1773, and you can't help but wonder if word of it's success trickled across the Atlantic to the restless Colonies.
The stage play has been taken outdoors in our latest DVD offering, with a British cast and a 17th-century manor house as the backdrop. Lush costumes, period music and authentic props are all par for the course when it comes to British film productions (can you imagine what the storage rooms at the BBC look like?), and these all combine to bring this 200+ year old story to life.
Beautiful Kate has spent her whole life in her father's rustic country manor, but he has arranged a marriage with the polished London-beau son of his oldest friend. This new suitor - Mr. Marlow - is on his way down to meet her, accompanied by his friend Mr. Hastings. Kate's cousin Constance is already involved in a secret romance with Mr. Hastings, and they hope to win the consent of Constance's guardian (Kate's mother), as well as possession of Constance's jewels. Mr. Marlow is handsome and glib around his friends and the maidservants, but he turns tongue-tied around women of his own class ("modest women", in Goldsmith's parlance).
When Marlow and Hastings encounter Kate's boorish stepbrother on their way to the manor, he tricks them into believing that they are miles from their destination and that the manor is in fact an inn run by an eccentric innkeeper (who is actually Marlow's prospective father-in-law).
That only gets you through the first 1/2 hour of the play, so you can see that there are plot twists, confusion, misapprehension and ludicrous mistakes in the offing. This is a very fun play that is also beautiful to look at...definitely worth watching!

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