Review by Hannah Clapham-Clark for www.festmag.co.uk (August 2013)
With fans in full waft, wigs coiffured to within an inch of their lives and stockings pulled up high, the stage is truly set for a chaotic romp through the trials and tribulations of classic Georgian romance. It wasn’t easy in those days—heaven forbid you simply just fell in love—as there must, of course, be the requisite number of deceits, whispers in the bushes, trickery and the occasional double bluff. Accordingly, there is no shortage here.
William Congreve's revered Restoration comedy wastes no time in instigating its onslaught of confusion, and has no sympathy if you get left behind. Pledges and promises are a device to explore themes of virtue and friendship, loyalty and desire, and despite a fairly predictable plot, it’s an enjoyable trip through desire.
The era is captured with great melodrama and maintains its tone throughout. Barely a second is left silent as the dialogue spits and swerves with fitting exuberance. Some well-defined performances illustrate a natural affinity for the comic moments, working hard to ensure that the density of the script is left light and absurd.
It’s an ambitious performance which, at times, can’t help but get bogged down with one too many twists and the headache-inducing number of characters involved. Opportunities for more wit and nuance become secondary to complexity and such preoccupations leave the production stilted. Regardless, this is a fun and charming take on a well-trodden style of theatre.