Writer: Oliver Goldsmith
Director: Conrad Nelson
Reviewer: Jamie Gaskin
We all know that the path of true love does not run smoothly.
But in Oliver Goldsmith’s case it is dented by deceit, pockmarked with potholes of pretence and gives its travellers a massive green-light to over-act their socks off.
Northern Broadsides offers us a bomb-burst of colour, confusion and comic characters as it poses the question of what do you do with a man who has a slick tongue for servant girls but is totally tongue-tied when it comes to chatting up posh totty?As usual it’s the woman who takes over and wins the day.
Even in such a competitive field the overacting award has to go to Young Marlow (Oliver Gomm) fumbling his romantic overtures with every inch of his body as he fights to overcome his shyness for classy Kate.
Hannah Edwards steps up to the mark as the desired damsel. I’m assuming that the great Scouse accent Edwards adopts as the barmaid is supplanted by the appropriate tones for each regional area Broadsides sets about conquering. A close second in the over-acting stakes is Howard Chadwick as Kate’s dad Hardcastle fighting to keep his temper when our young heroes are tricked into believing that he is an innkeeper and not the local gentry.
Director Conrad Nelson should be applauded for encouraging the excesses of his team in, what is a period romp. The movements are brisk and a lively pace is maintained but just occasionally the show seemed to drag.
As ever romantic plots come in twos and as Young Marlow is beguiled by Kate, his pal Hastings (Guy Lewis) is determined to win Constance Neville who (for the sake of convenience) is being looked after by Mrs Hardcastle. Gilly Tompkins is delightful as the sort of domineering old bag who reminds us that pantomime dames are just around the corner.
While Mrs Hardcastle plots to wed her milksop son Tony Lumpkin to Constance and her fortune, Constance, the self-willed hussy herself, is determined to win her battle for Hastings. Lauryn Redding has a thoroughly wonderful time shamelessly chasing her beau with great passion and the determination of a heat-seeking missile.
And so on to the chief mischief-maker:the aptly named Tony Lumpkin, who is the apple of Mrs Hardwick’s eye. I’m not sure Jon Trenchard’s camp character would appeal to the Bouncing Betty he dribbles over.We never meet Betty, but clearly she enjoys a full social life at The Three Pigeons tavern which Lumpkin prefers to his mother’s apron strings.
Using servants as musicians is very true to the period. Although I would hesitate to allow such a motley crew to attend my guests their music adds wonderfully to the entertainment.A great night out I have to concur.
Runs until 22ndNovember| Photo Nobby Clark