Jermyn Street Theatre – The Kissing Dance

The Kissing Dance
Musical based on Oliver Goldsmith’s She Stoops to Conquer, with music by Howard Goodall and book and lyrics by Charles Hart [Professional premiere production]

Tony Lumpkin – Jack Shalloo
Bridget – Lila Clements
Pansy – Harriet Oughton
Diggory – Samuel Martin
Mr Dick Hardcastle – David Burt
Mrs Dorothy Hardcastle – Beverley Klein
Miss Kate Hardcastle – Gina Beck
Miss Constance Neville – Gemma Sutton
Bet Bouncer – Lauren Storer
Mr Chales Marlow – Ian Virgo
Mr George Hastings – Dylan Turner
Stingo – Greg Herst
Sir James Marlow – David Alder

Lotte Wakeham – Director
Tom Attwood – Musical director & orchestrator
Harriet Oughton – Assistant musical director & piano
Samal Blak – Set designer
Christopher Nairne – Lighting designer
Karen Frances – Costume designer
Tim Jackson – Choreographer

Reviewed by: Michael Darvell

Reviewed: 24 March, 2011
Venue: Jermyn Street Theatre, London

Oliver Goldsmith’s “She Stoops to Conquer” (a satire on classes in society) is a classic stage comedy of manners (good and bad) dating from 1773, one that has been constantly revived. It is set mainly at Nonesuch, the manor house of the Hardcastle family, a long way from London. Young Charles Marlow, son of a military friend of Dick Hardcastle, is enamoured of Hardcastle’s daughter Kate and plans a visit to his possible parents-in-law. His travelling companion, George Hastings, has taken a shine to Mrs Dorothy Hardcastle’s niece Constance. When the two travellers get lost en route to Nonesuch, they fetch up at a pub. Dick Hardcastle’s stepson, Tony Lumpkin, realises who they are and tricks them into believing that Nonesuch is an inn where they must stay overnight.

On arrival they treat Hardcastle as a mere innkeeper and his wife as a lowly landlady. Mrs Hardcastle wants Tony to marry Constance so that she can keep the family jewels. But Tony hates Constance so offers to steal the jewels from his mother and give them to Constance so she can go off to France with Hastings. Marlow, however, has a problem, in that he can flirt outrageously with servant-girls but becomes tongue-tied when confronted by a lady. Kate (the only really genuine person in the play) knows this so swaps places with country girl Bet Bouncer in order to finally catch her man. Mistaken identities are sorted out to everyone’s pleasing.

The plot has all the elements you might find in a comic opera by Mozart or Rossini, and Goldsmith’s play has certainly adapted well to the musical stage. Howard Goodall has musical experience. The production is very lively, and Tim Jackson’s choreography is engaging. Everything is light and easy, with a simple set of cubes decorated with jesters, designs in keeping with the magical box of tricks from which Goldsmith’s characters play-out their desires.

The performances are very strong: Jack Shalloo’s likeable but highly mischievous Tony Lumpkin (the rogue who meets his match in Kate Hardcastle) was particularly effective. Gina Beck’s winsome performance was the epitome of tough primness. Ian Virgo made a fine gent-and-silly-ass as Marlow. Gemma Sutton as Constance and Lauren Storer as Bet Bouncer provided good support. David Burt as Hardcastle is a short-sighted fool out to please for personal gain but his wife Dorothy is in another league altogether. Beverley Klein gave a great comic performance as the grasping stepmother completely obsessed with money and position who will go to any lengths to achieve both: she brought the house down with her performance as this magnificently grotesque woman.

It is good to report that the British musical is alive and well and living at present in Jermyn Street.

  • Performances until April 23
  • Tuesday to Saturday 7.30 p.m., matinees Saturday & Sunday at 3.30
  • Tickets: 020 7287 2875

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