The Beaux’ Stratagem

Published May 27, 2015

What’s it all about?

Two industrious chaps who, having fallen on relatively hard times, intend to cure their economic ailment by tricking a well-endowed – monetarily-speaking – woman into marrying one of them.

And a feisty, intelligent woman stuck in a marriage with a drunken layabout good-for-nothing.

And a dubious innkeeper, a gentlemanly highwayman, a lovelorn Frenchman, a questionable priest and a besotted servant.

Yes, of course it’s a comedy.

Who’s in it?

Susannah Fielding, who won plaudits aplenty as Portia in the Almeida Theatre’s The Merchant Of Venice, puts fire in the belly, wit in the mind and sass on the tongue of the trapped but never beaten Lady Sullen. Her tale provides the dark edge to the otherwise knockabout silliness of the evening and Fielding masterfully balances the pain and power of the piece’s emotional heart.

Geoffrey Streatfeid, last seen in the Olivier-nominated My Night With Reg, brings an easy, loquacious charm to gentleman-turned-footman Archer, Mr Selfridge’s Amy Morgan makes for a lusty, strong inn maid Cherry and Pearce Quigley is comedy gold as the monotonous Deputy Dawg-esque servant Scrub.

In all fairness, this is a super ensemble that, under Simon Godwin’s direction, doesn’t put a foot wrong. It’s a performance of collective perfection.

What should I look out for?

For all the National’s big name musical signings – Cerys Matthews, Goldfrapp, Damon Albarn – specialist theatrical composer Michael Bruce has written some fantastic ditties that leap out to bring surprising punctuation to the piece and bring even more joy to the Olivier Theatre. In particular, the moment when one such song appears to actually possess Streatfeild, Quigley and co like something out of an 18th century Beetlejuice is fabulous.

Kevin McCurdy’s brilliantly choreographed mass fight scene in which there’s so much going on it resembles a Western bar brawl, but with more swords and breeches.

In a nutshell?

Fun, filth, frockcoats and female empowerment; The Beaux’ Stratagem is joyously entertaining theatre.

What’s being said on Twitter?

Will I like it?

Quite simply, if you enjoy smiling, chuckling or guffawing go and see The Beaux’ Stratagem. If these things don’t appeal, steer clear.

The Beaux’ Stratagem runs at the National Theatre until 20 September. You can book tickets through us here.

The production will also be broadcast live to more than 550 cinemas on 3 September as part of NT Live.