She Stoops To Conquer is perhaps the best-known work of Oliver Goldsmith. First performed in 1773 to much acclaim, the play is still popular with audiences today.
A wealthy countryman named Mr Hardcastle has designs to marry his daughter Kate off to Mr Marlow, a wealthy London gentleman. However, when her half-brother Tony Lumpkin decides to play a joke on Marlow, a tale of mistaken identity and social mores of the time unfolds. Confusions abound as the twists and turns of the lies unfold and unravel. The ending has a neat resolve with a happily ever after feel to it with all the characters seemingly attaining their goals.
Alter Ego’s production stands out as a very slick and stylish one. Sean McGrath’s direction suits the play perfectly. He shows his talent in delivering a highly polished piece. The tale is clearly and expertly presented, with a strong cast giving an energised and enthusiastic show. The beautiful and talented Philippa Paget gives a sincere and endearing performance as Kate and a well-rounded Mrs Hardcastle making good use of her comic and vocal talents. Rhys Jones gives a commanding portrayal of Tony Lumpkin as a cheeky but lovable rogue reminiscent of a young Jack Black and delivers a creditable Sir Charles Marlow. Scott Loader’s Marlow was well cast, wonderfully charming and entertaining. His mannerisms aptly portrayed the character and his nervous laugh, which in some cases could be too much, were played to the right level and almost became infectious. Paul Tunnicliffe’s Mr Hardcastle was adroitly and convincingly played as the country gentleman and provided much entertainment with his Stingo. Rich Bunn’s Mr Hastings was superbly brought to life as a suffering sidekick to Marlow but with his own agenda bubbling away underneath. Victoria Sye’s Constance Neville was played with the right level of girlish vivacity and scheming to allow the audience to fall in love with her and want to see her plan come to fruition.
Overall a stunning production all round with great costume and set design as well, Alter Ego should have much to be proud of.