By Celica Cook, SBM Student Life Editor
She Stoops to Conquer is an 18th-century comedy with all the wit, humor and romance of a modern-day romantic comedy.
Set in 18th century England, Kate Hardcastle, played by senior theater major Brittany Grove, is set up with the son of wealthy Londoner, Charles Marlow, played by sophomore theater major Jim Hy. Mr. Hardcastle, Kate’s father and owner of the estate in which most of the play is set in, is played by Micah Crandall. Hardcastle hopes that Marlow and Kate will make a good match, as Marlow is the son of a wealthy English landowner and a seemingly good choice of husband for Kate. Marlow, though handsome and charming, finds himself very nervous and awkward around upper-class women like Kate Hardcastle. His princely charm returns however when he is in the company of lower-class women. When Kate learns of this odd personality quirk of Marlow’s, she disguises herself as a maid in order to give Marlow a chance to woo her. All the while, Marlow is convinced that the Hardcastle estate is an inn, and proceeds to treat the house and its inhabitants as if he were merely a guest, and they merely his hosts and servants, making the plot all the more comedic in this awkward twist of events.
The character development is expertly done by the actors in the show. Crandall’s portrayal of the old Mr. Hardcastle brought laughter to the whole audience. He plays the character so precisely, right down to the quivering nature of the man’s voice, and the slow, stooped movements that reveal his age. Perhaps the most enjoyable aspect of Hardcastle’s character is his comedic and jovial nature. One doesn’t expect such a big personality out of such a stooped old man, yet Crandall brings Hardcastle to life, leaving the audience laughing with each witty gesture and comedic line.
The romance between Marlow and Kate does not unfold slowly as one might expect in a story like this. Rather, their relationship unfolds quite quickly, though only under some untrue circumstances. The dialogue and chemistry between Kate and Marlow is refreshingly comical. Grove plays Kate with all the charm and flirtatious wit that the character demands. Hy plays Marlow with princely charm and confidence mixed with a shy, boyish vulnerability that allows the audience to fall in love with his character.
This show is a comedic reflection on what it means to look past someone’s outward appearance, and place value on what is inside. It is an 18th-century tale that still has relevance today in an age where appearance can often take the place of truth. It was wonderfully done, and a true delight to watch.
She Stoops to Conquer is directed by Elizabeth Angelozzi, and will be showing again this weekend at 8 p.m. on November 22-23, and at 3 p.m. on November 24. Tickets can be purchased at the ticket office, or online at www.messiah.edu/tickets.