The V&A: Part 2

3rd March 2013

Screening of ‘The Recruiting Officer’

 

On the afternoon of our visit to the V&A there was a screening of ‘The Recruiting Officer’ (1706, George Farquhar) in the Hoehhauser Auditorium. It was one of a series of plays recorded and screened as part of the V & A’s National Video Archive of Performance screening’s programme. This particular play was recorded at the Donmar Warehouse in 2012 and was directed by Josie Rourke.

Tobias Menzies plays Captain Plume, the rakish, lovelorn and somewhat misunderstood recruiting officer of the play’s title. He’s sent to Shrewsbury with his sergeant, Kite (Mackenzie Crook) to drum up a company of men. He’s in love with his benefactor’s daughter (Justice Balance – Gawn Grainger, Silvia – Nancy Carroll) but despairs of ever getting her.

Meanwhile, the captain’s friend Mr. Worthy (Nicholas Burns) is in love with Silvia’s cousin Melinda, who since inheriting £20,000 has become haughty and too high for him. Into this group comes Captain Brazen (Mark Gatiss) to cause a stir by courting Melinda.

With double-crossing servants, cross-dressing daughter’s, conniving sergeants, musical townsmen and jokes about syphilis the play amuses and yet still remains poignant as disputes are resolved and the men go off to war.

Firstly let me say that I had no expectations of this play. I went because it was the centre piece of our group’s plans for the day (we followed it up with a visit to The Queen’s Head, Kensington – nice food, bit expensive, very busy/noisy/small). I knew nothing about the plot, the playwright or the majority of the cast.

That all being said, I enjoyed it immensely and left with the intention of seeking out a copy of the play to read (which is exactly what I shall do, just as soon as I’ve got all the blog posts from last weekend online – Gutenberg Project here I come). The cast were all excellent, the comic scenes played perfectly and the more emotional scenes tugged at heartstrings (the woman two seats away from me cried and I couldn’t help singing along to ‘Over the Hills’). The 143 minutes passed quickly. Particular highlights were Mark Gatiss’s portrayal of Captain Brazen, witty and cheeky, passing his cane to an audience member during his ‘fight’ with Captain Plume, and Katheryn Drysdale’s ‘Lucy’ is very funny as she attempts to catch herself a captain and rise from Melinda’s maid to a Captain’s lady. All the cast were great. I really enjoyed the music that laced the play; it acted as a unifying force as the action moves away from the trials and tribulations of recruiting men for the war effort, to the complicated love lives of the characters and then back to war.

I would have loved to have seen it on stage, but the recording was excellent. There was a moment just before the interval where there was a technical problem, but that was quickly fixed and didn’t mar enjoyment of the screening overall. I would certainly like to be able to get a DVD of the recording, although I don’t think that they are available. The staff members at the auditorium were friendly and helpful, and engaged with and informed the audience in a cheerful manner.

The remaining screenings are

  • Butley by Simon Gray 10th March
  • Tusk Tusk by Polly Stenham 17th March
  • A View from The Bridge by Arthur Miller 24th March

All start at 14:00 – see the V & A website for details

www.vam.ac.uk/whatson

Take a look at the V&A’s website, it’s quite interesting,

Bye for now,

Rose

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