Considered a bit riscay to audiences at its 1701 debut, ‘The Beaux Stratagem’ is delightfully charming and cynical in its portrayal of matrimony for contemporary audiences. The Stratford Festival presentation plays The Festival Theatre until October 11.

Steeped With Farcical Humour

Playwright George Farquhar’s The Beaux Stratagem has been one of the most celebrated comedies of the British stage for more than two centuries. If Antoni Cimolino and company waited one more year to bring it to this merry romp to the Stratford stage, one could only conclude audiences ought to start taking it personally.

This laugh-a-minute narrative revolves around Thom Aimwell (Mike Shara) and Jack Archer (Colm Feore), two stylish bachelors prowling the English countryside for unsuspecting heiresses hoping they can to assist with their cashflow problems.

In the village of Lichfield, a friendship unfolds between Thom and Dorinda (Bethany Jillard) while a bond takes shape between Archer and Mrs. Sullen (Lucy Peacock) .

Nothing is a given in this story that serves as swashbuckling fun from beginning to end. Get ready for damsels in distress, dazzling wordplay, sword fight surprises.

Colm Feore is splendidly charming and richly amusing as the faux footmen-true romancer, Jack Archer while Mike Shara brings an ebullient buoyancy as the doggedly determined faux nobleman-true lover, Thom Aimwell.

This leaves much to be said for Bethany Jillard’s playful investment as a first-time lover and Lucy Peacock persona as an uhappily married woman looking for any excuse to flee from her drunkard husband.

If love, greed, and the devious pursuit of happiness is your theatrical cup of tea this summer, The Beaux Strategem is steeped with farcical humour that may cause cheek pain from the smile it leaves behind.

Review by Jordan Allystair

THE BEAUX STRATAGEM by George Farquhar Jul. 31 – Oct. 11, 2014 FESTIVAL THEATRE, Stratford TICKETS $45.00 – $135.00 1-800-561-1600 CAST Colm Feore, Martha Henry, Lucy Peacock, Mike Shara, Bethany Jillard, Scott Wentworth, Michael Blake, Evan Buliung, David Collins, Victor Ertmanis, Sara Farb, Brad Hodder, Robert King, Josue Laboucane, Gordon S. Miller, Chick Reid, Tara Rosling, Michael Spencer-Davis, Karl Ang, Natalie Daradich, Alexandra Kerzog, Bethany Kovarik, Derek Moran, Thomas Olajide, Laura Schutt, Mike Tracz, Maev Beaty, Lisa Repo-Martell DIRECTOR Antoni Cimolino SET AND COSTUMES Patrick Clark LIGHTING Robert Thompson SOUND DESIGN Thomas Ryder Payne

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