No, seriously. Written 400 years ago, and it’s hilarious. Or at least this production is.
I hadn’t seen any Restoration Comedy before tonight, so I have nothing to compare to, and it’s always going to be difficult to separate the play itself from the production. But I can only talk about what I saw tonight, and it was laugh-out-loud funny.
The plot is simple – two down-on-their-luck gentlemen from London (the Beaux of the title) have traveled to Lichfield to try to find rich women to take advantage of. But the citizens of Lichfield turn out to be smarter that expected, and the collection of local characters – the publican, a gang of highwaymen, a captured French captain with an outrageous accent, a French/Irish priest with an even more outrageous accent – create and intertwining plot that moves from romantic comedy to social commentary to farce.
The energy is tremendous, though it does drop a little whenever the two male leads, Samuel Barnett (Aimwell) and especially Geoffrey Streatfield (Archer) aren’t on stage.
Sadly, the cinema I saw this in was nearly empty, maybe 25-30 people at most. Which is a pity – I was in two minds about going this evening but I was so glad that I took the chance and went.
During the interval we were shown a short film about how the NT Live productions are brought to screen. If the National Theatre ever puts it online, I’ll post the link: it was an interesting insight into the process.