A Beautifully Designed BEAUX’ STRATAGEM at PCS

by Kelly Thunstrom

Mrs. Kate Sullen, Lady Bountiful’s daughter-in-law (Carrie Share of Haddon Township, NJ), consults with Chaplain Gloss (David Owen Cashell of Springfield) - unaware of his secret second profession as highwayman, in THE BEAUX' STRATAGEM at The Players Club of Swarthmore, through January 21.

The Players’ Club of Swarthmore, which produces some of the most consistently reliable theater in the area, is beginning to get a new reputation…sets. Set and scenic designer Jolene Petrowski again works her magic on the PCS’ stage, along with scenic artist Sandy Goldsborough. There are two main sets in THE BEAUX’ STRATAGEM, both very elaborate. The turntable design Petrowski uses is quite remarkable, allowing the set to be changed from the inn to the house in no time.

As director George Mulford tells us in his program notes, this play was originally written in 1707 by George Farquhar. Realizing the brilliance of the idea, but knowing that it needed an update for the audience of the 1930s, Thornton Wilder began to adapt it in 1938. Ken Ludwig completed the unfinished work upon Wilder’s death. So three different playwrights have combined ideas to make THE BEAUX’ STRATAGEM what it is today.

The main gist is simple…everyone has secrets; everyone deceives. Characters talk directly to the audience, letting them in on the “jokes” and making them seem smarter than those onstage. It was “Laugh-In” for the early 1700s. That being said, the audience needs to listen very clearly, as each line is important. Sometimes it is hard to understand when actors are speaking in accents. I was relieved when a few stopped doing that after their “deception” was over.

Jack Archer (Chris Braak) and Tom Aimwell (Matthew D. Prince) are trying to change their lot in life by marrying heiresses. Lo and behold, it just so happens that Lady Bountiful (Janean Clare) has an unmarried daughter, Dorinda (Jillian Haas), and a very unhappy daughter-in-law, Kate Sullen (Carrie Share). Lady Bountiful considers herself the town “doctor”; however, “Once her patients visit her one time, they never go back again.” She dotes on her son (Richard Geller), who loves nothing more than a drink morning, noon, and night. Mayhem ensues as these characters intertwine and their secrets unravel.

Watching Share and Geller in their unhappy marriage is like watching a TV show in the 21st century. Share plays the disgruntled, filled-with-sarcasm wife very effectively. Marriage is a big theme in this play with the hysterical Foigard (Paul Kerrigan) stating, “No one ever dies from marriage. They suffer, but they do not die.”

I would like to know how long the wonderful fight scene, directed by Jacqueline Holloway, was rehearsed in order to get that coordination down. Kudos to Prince for his behind-the-back skills, which made the audience clap uproariously.

This talented cast works together and has the comic timing to make THE BEAUX’ STRATAGEM a hit!

by George Farquhar
Adapted by Thornton Wilder and Ken Ludwig
Directed by George Mulford
January 6-21, 2012
Players Club of Swarthmore
614 Fairview Road
Swarthmore, PA 19081

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