Reviewed by Janice Bailey
The Stirling Players continue to build on their reputation of presenting first-class theatre in Adelaide with their latest offering, The Beaux Stratagem. I felt privileged to attend the Australian Premiere of the Thornton Wilder–Ken Ludwig adaptation of George Farquar’s 17th century Restoration comedy on opening night. Dave Simms has assembled a stellar cast to present what he calls in his director’s notes ‘a romp’. A romp it is indeed! However, it is not easy to ‘make actors run around the theatre’ unless the purpose is clear to all concerned – and it was obvious to this reviewer that it was! This is indeed a true ensemble show – the play provides so many wonderful lines that cast members could be forgiven for trying to outdo each other – but they don’t, working so well together that the pace never slows, keeping the audience fully involved from start to end.
Denis Noble and Dave Simms’ set design is functional, never getting in the way of the action of the play while Sally Putnam’s lighting adds to the overall effectiveness of the setting. The costume crew of Rob Andrewartha, Anna Baker, Jane Bleby and Jasmin Muller, led by costume coordinator Viki Burrett, have outdone themselves, presenting authentic and beautifully co-ordinated costumes befitting the era. Rosie Williams as Cherry and Anna Bampton as Mrs Kate Sullen make the most of every line and respectively deliver strong performances. Adam Tuominen as Jack Archer and James Edwards as Tom Aimwell deliver faultless performances as the young males, endeavouring to win the hands of the young ladies. The highlight of the show for me was Joshua Coldwell’s delivery of ‘the Catechism of Marriage’. A brilliantly written speech, superbly delivered. You have until the 7 March – don’t miss this one!