The Recruiting Officer
From: Thursday, 9th February 2012
To: Saturday, 14 April 2012
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'Unless we could make ourselves some pleasure amidst the pain, no mortal man would be able to bear it.' It's with the promise of money, glory and adventure that Captain Plume is recruiting the men of Shrewsbury for the King's army. He's also determined to make a conquest of Sylvia, but as she's now an heiress she can afford to put him to the test. All the while, the scheming Melinda is toying with the affections of Captain Brazen and the gentleman Mr Worthy. From military manoeuvring to sexual strategies, Farquhar's triumphant The Recruiting Officer, written in 1706, is an unashamed celebration of love, lustiness and victory in battle and in the bedroom.
Michael Coveney - 15 February 2012
Josie Rourke bows as the new artistic director of the Donmar Warehouse in a blaze of footlights and coloured candles, red coats and muskets, live chickens and apples, and a poignant chorus of “Over the Fields and Far Away” as the new recruits down musical instruments and depart for war.
Following Michael Grandage, let alone Sam Mendes, in the hot seat was always going to be a tough call. Wisely, Rourke and her designer, the brilliantly resourceful Lucy Osborne, avoid any hint of flagstones, incense, high tall windows, existentialism and clever wraparound soundscape.
In fact, Rourke plays a blinder: the stage, not the acting, is entirely wooden, and she somehow makes the pocket-sized arena larger, and more open, as Captain Plume (Tobias Menzies, robust and likeable) and his rat-like Sergeant Kite (Mackenzie Crook, hilariously furtive and filthy) descend on Shrewsbury to press gang soldiers for the Spanish wars.
George Farquhar’s beauti...
Latest User Review
David Baxter - 30 March 2012:
The first thing you notice on entering the Donmar is that the decorators have been in; the walls behind the stalls have gone and some of the seats now have floral cushion covers - the new female regime has already made an impression! We were sitting next to Joise Rourke at the WoS Awards Show and she seemed remarkably relaxed about following the legendary Michael Grandage, but she already knew her first production was a winner. The Recruiting Officer is a riotous Restoration comedy of press gangs, bogus fortune tellers, gender swaps and countless romantic triangles. It's completely bonkers and far funnier than She Stoops to Conquer at the National. A very starry cast are on top form with Aimee-Ffion Edwards, singing prettily as she did in Jerusalem, as a stunningly dopey and libidinous wench. Rachael Stirling seems to have picked up improvisational skills from her partner Oliver Chris (...Guvnors), ad libbing brilliantly when she spotted Katherine Parkinson in the second row. A quintet of actor musicians provide a range of English folk songs (as well as an hilarious mobile phone warning) and also a Journeys End style ending as we are reminded that these men have been press ganged into service as probable cannon fodder. That's rather a downbeat ending for a terrific and marvellously ridiculous show which makes for a great start to the reign of Good Queen Josie....
Nancy Carroll (Silvia)
Mackenzie Crook (Sergeant Kite)
Mark Gatiss (Captain Brazen)
Gawn Grainger (Mr Balance)
Tobias Menzies (Captain Plume)
Rachael Stirling (Melinda)