Mini-review – She Stoops to Conquer – National Theatre

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It’s been a week and a half since I saw She Stoops to Conquer at the National and I had so little to say about it I put writing about it behind several other more interesting shows. My theater friends on Twitter had been extremely enthusiastic about it, and I do enjoy the occasional Restoration comedy – switched identities, love conquers all, etc – but I was not entranced by this production. There were too many places where the action sagged – musical numbers should have been cut entirely – and I was not compelled by the performance of Katherine Kelly as Miss Hardcastle. It’s hard not to enjoy a plot in which a stuck up prig gets what’s coming to him, but Kelly was not … sympathetic. I didn’t want her to win; I hardly cared what happened to her at all.

I felt that most of the comedy in this show centered around people pulling faces on stage, and, as ever, if we missed any possible sexual connotations in the script, the director made sure it was all very obvious to us. The entire lack of subtlety just killed the fizz in this show for me, and it was all as much fun to take in as a two day old glass of soda – treacly going down and just a bit gross. It utterly failed to cheer my friend up and both of us were bored. We were hard pressed to stay past the interval but pressed on because it was a Friday and we didn’t really have anywhere else to go. I don’t see what the excitement was about. With great shows like The Collaborators going on, I don’t see why the National is bothering with stale time-killers like this show. However, looking at the schedule, I see it has closed at last and my preferred comedy is taking its place. Hooray! May sharp performances and livelier wit be celebrated in the Olivier instead.

(This review is for a performance that took place on April 13th, 2012. It closed April 21st.)

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