Monday, 20 February 2012

‘The Recruiting Officer’ - Donmar Warehouse - Thursday 16th February 2012

(Rated 3/5)

True to form I unfortunately restricted myself even further before this performance by having a fall and breaking my thumb. This means typing is pretty difficult and so this review will not be one of my usual length-enhanced by exuberant-enthusiasm efforts. My mood going in was also not helped by the fact that an elderly friend of mine had also had a fall and had not been seen since - though seemed to have gone off in an ambulance with a brave smile on her face and cheerful attitude in spite of everything - so I had no real idea as to her welfare. 
That said, I do think if the play and performances had been outstanding I may well have been able to forget my worries, pains and discomfort and got lost in the comedy and drama.
This was a fun frolic. The performances were all good. I particularly enjoyed the musical interludes. The Donmar was as usual exhibiting yet another aspect of its chameleon-ness; such an extraordinary little space - this time lit by candle-like light and dressed for the time of the play in the early 1500s. 
The play is not really my cuppa tea - in my humble opinion that does matter - it's very hard to write an objective view as to whether something is inherently good or not. It's great of its time and the author, George Farquhar,  knew his subject-matter from direct experience, which does show in his witty portrayal and understanding of the issues around the difficulties and deceptions involved in recruiting young men to war and women to bed - but I found I didn't really care that much about anybody involved or whether the lover pairs got together. It did not transcend time in the same way a Shakespearean piece can; to me it felt dated.
That said Mark Gatiss woke me up with an audience-interaction that seemed to be aimed directly at me in the first row of the circle. I was unsure how to respond as his eyes seemed to meet mine with a look of great expectation on his face!
I think my enjoyment was also marred by a very reasonable fear of actors, wielding large props - often also playing said props when they were musical instruments - running down stairs, or wearing dresses that seemed to catch in their shoes, potentially also taking tumbles and breaking themselves. At one point the wonderful Rachael Stirling deliberately fell in a faint and my heart missed a beat. BUT nobody broke themselves and there were lots of happy smiles at the curtain call from performers and audience members alike. 

The Recruiting Officer - Review by TheRestrictedReviewer © 2012

Twitter: @RestrictReview