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“The Recruiting Officer”

I’ve just come from seeing this play at the Donmar Warehouse, and I have to say, I really enjoyed it. I’m not terribly familiar with George Farquhar’s work, but coming from a background in Shakespeare, I have a soft spot for these old farces. (I know, not quite so old as Shakespeare, but still.) This one was well done. I especially liked the music, though I do prefer Great Big Sea’s arrangement of “Over the Hills.”

There’s not much to say; the show is nearing the end of its run and is for the most part sold out, so I can’t do much by prompting people to see it. The entire cast was excellent, and I feel lucky to have been able to attend, even if it meant sitting in the notoriously uncomfortable Circle. (Older man on my right didn’t laugh once and kept checking his watch; I worry he wasn’t able to understand the language or the story or something. Or maybe it was just that he was sitting, like me, in the notoriously uncomfortable Circle.)

In short, the story is the usual comedy in which this man likes that woman, and this other man likes that other woman, but there are various obstacles involved that must be cleared through absurd and ridiculous means. Oh, and there is some recruiting for the army being done besides, hence the title. And chickens. Yes! Real, live chickens! If only for a few minutes. One gets carried around and the other has to stay in the box . . . I wonder if they switch off?

No, the chickens are not recruited for the army. It’s not that much of a farce.

Smart staging and direction. A fun play, and outside the typical fare. A worthwhile choice, I found, and a nice change of pace.

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