The Actors Company Theatre (TACT) revival of Oliver Goldsmith’s She Stoops to Conquer is enchanting. Stripped down, yet keeping in the era the actors rely on their craft, energy and their camaraderie.
Squire Hardcastle (John Rothman) and his second wife Mrs. Hardcastle (Cynthia Darlow), bicker about her son, Tony Lumpkin (Richard Thieriot), whom she had with her first husband. Tony is a mischievous man, with a love for drink and trickery, but not much else. Mrs. Hardcastle is quite determined that her spoiled and rather stupid son shall marry her niece, Constance Neville (Justine Salata). If they marry she will be able to keep in the family Miss Neville’s fortune – a casket of valuable jewels. Miss Neville and Tony Lumpkin, however, can only agree on one thing; their hatred of each other.
Mr. Hardcastle (John Rothman) has arranges for his daughter Kate (Mairin Lee) to meet Charles Marlow (Jeremy Beck), the son of his friend a rich Londoner, hoping the pair will marry and bring the families together. Marlow has set out for Mr. Hardcastle’s manor with his friend, George Hastings (Tony Roach), who is in love with Miss Neville. The two men get lost and stop at an alehouse, The Three Jolly Pigeons and ask for directions. Tony, plays a practical joke by telling them that they are a long way from their destination and will have to stay overnight at an inn. The “inn” he directs them to is in fact the home of the Hardcastles. When they arrive, the Hardcastles, who have been expecting them, go out of their way to make them welcome. However, Marlow and Hastings, believing themselves in an inn, behave extremely disdainfully towards their hosts. Hardcastle bears their unwitting insults with forbearance, because of his friendship with Marlow’s father.
Unfortunately, Marlow can not talk to women of high society. He becomes a bumbling idiot shaking and falling apart. When Kate learns of her suitor’s shyness from Constance and about Tony’s trick. She decides to masquerade as a serving-maid to get to know him. Marlow falls in love with her
In the meantime Constance and Hastings plan to elope but Constance needs her jewels, an inheritance, guarded by Tony’s mother, Mrs. Hardcastle (Cynthia Darlow), who wants Constance to marry her son, to keep the jewels in the family. Tony despises the thought of marrying Constance so he agrees to steal the jewels from his mother’s safekeeping for Constance, so she can elope to France with Hastings.
All misunderstandings are resolved by the end and the lovers all end up with who they were meant to be with.
She Stoops to Conquer: The Beckett Theatre, 410 West 42nd St., through November 5th.