Mini-review – The Beaux’ Stratagem – National Theater (and National Theater Live)

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I do like restoration comedy, and the allure of the £15 Travellex series is not to be undersold …

But maybe, sometimes, it is.

Full of silly schemes and two dimensional (yet still funny) characters, The Beaux’ Stratagem is a clever play, making good use of the trope of two brothers pretending (in turns) to be each other’s servant and the rather common plot line of men marrying in search of a fortune. We get bonus fun in the character of an innkeeper and his daughter – a good counterbalance for any actually moral, upperclass folks – and the comic servants at the house of the women the two beaux have their eyes on (one married and frustrated, the other a maiden, starry-eyed, and of good fortune).

It’s generally fun and has some great scene changes and a lot to laugh about, but oh MY the pacing just dropped like a … badly placed metaphor (your suggestions welcome) every time the ensemble had to sing. I was bored and fidgety – let’s be honest, this play is not short – but we could have moved forward at such a nicer clip if this stuff had been cut.

I’d meant to post this review earlier, to warn people who might have seen this as an NT Live performance, to say, for the cost of a cinema ticket, this is not worth your time; but it’s too late to warn these folks. For £15, this play skirts the edge of what I can tolerate. Despite its high quality of acting and zesty script, the length and the fat just add up to a rather indigestibly (and possibly indefensibly) long evening – worth the entry fee of the cheap tickets but only just. In retrospect, I could have skipped this evening and I don’t think I’d have lost much, and that’s not really what I’d call praise.

(This review is for a performance that took place on Monday, August 31st, 2015. It continues through Sunday September 20th.)

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