Southwest Shakespeare's She Stoops to Conquer in Mesa Is Tedious and Good-Looking -- Think Richard Gere's Private Life


she stoops 2.jpg
Stacey Walston
Spencer Dooley and Justine Hartley navigate the rutted road of courtship in She Stoops to Conquer.
As the title character ("she" who stoops and conquers, a.k.a. Kate Hardcastle), Southwest Shakespeare comic standby Justine Hartley is, as always, graceful in carriage and intelligent in a kinda-sexy way. She doesn't display easy chemistry with any of the rest of the actors, but now that I think about it, nobody here really does, and that might be a stylistic choice with an unfortunate consequence. Hartley is marooned upstage much of the time and has less stage time than some of the others, giving her fewer chances to connect with the audience.

Spencer Dooley was genuinely amusing as Kate's suitor, young Marlow, who is a conceited snot-rag. He's also supposed to be full of desirable virtues, shy around upper-class women, and friendly, flirtatious, and talkative with working-class women. That latter dichotomy is particularly hard to present as anything other than a massive and unpleasant personality flaw, and in general young Marlowe simply has far to0 much to carry in the storyline, so the cognitive dissonance Dooley induces might not be his fault.

The set and costumes are elegant, fun, and functional. Very. Jeff Thompson and Maci Hosler, respectively, designed them.

The verdict: Sadly, this production of She Stoops to Conquer is an example of the type of classical theater that keeps people away from classical theater. And it's unfortunate that the company that's producing it is the only professional full-time classical company in town and is struggling to stay in business, because this show, if considered in a vacuum, ought not convince anyone to help Southwest Shakespeare.

She Stoops to Conquer continues through Saturday, April 27, at Mesa Arts Center, One East Main Street. Admission is $12.50 to $33.50 -- purchase tickets here or call 480-644-6500.

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Location Info

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Mesa Arts Center

1 E. Main St., Mesa, AZ

Category: General

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4 comments
marywayinjapanUkUSA
marywayinjapanUkUSA

Great to hear it! Agreed. Also...restoration note little "r", not referencing the period. As for the Cats reference, it is vintage SNL derivative nomenclature. You can start breathing again. I did read past the headline, it is the very reason I chose to respond with my own comments. Headlines are key (that is why they are at the top of the page) and this specific headline put several people I know off of seeing a perfectly delightful piece of comedy that did not seem "tedious" to me. I do agree it was good-looking, a triumph for a state that is at the bottom of the list ( 50th of 50 ) for public arts spending.

Roll on Kevin Kline... Who will be reprising "Pirates of Penzance" at Shakespeare in the Park in NYC the very next week. Seeing him in Mesa is a great opportunity to get a jump on the New York Public Theater.

marywayinjapanUkUSA
marywayinjapanUkUSA

Great to hear it! Agreed. Also...restoration note little "r", not referencing the period. As for the Cats reference, it is vintage SNL derivative nomenclature. You can start breathing again. I did read past the headline, it is the very reason I chose to respond with my own comments. Headlines are key (that is why they are at the top of the page) and this specific headline put several people I know off of seeing a perfectly delightful piece of comedy that did not seem "tedious" to me. I do agree it was good-looking, a triumph for a state that is at the bottom of the list ( 50th of 50 ) for public arts spending. Roll on Kevin Kline... Who will be reprising "Pirates of Penzance" at Shakespeare in the Park in NYC the very next week. Seeing him in Mesa is a great opportunity to get a jump on the New York Public Theater.

JuliePeterson
JuliePeterson

@marywayinjapanUkUSAYou are off by about six decades about She Stoops being a Restoration comedy, and "better than Cats" made me stop breathing for a moment. But I'm pleased and grateful you shared your opinions, with most of which I don't disagree. (Yes, it's difficult, yes, the cast was strong, yes, the sets and costumes were fantastic -- did you read anything other than the headline?)

I'm truly glad you and your date enjoyed the show, and I think people should support the company as well. They do some really fine shows and, as I said, it's important to have a classical theater.

Kevin Kline is an old friend of Southwest Shakespeare's director, and he was here last year, too. To help them fundraise. His visit on June 1 is a performance of his own one-man show (not really a role he had an option to "decline"). It should be great! Info and tickets here: http://www.mesaartscenter.com/index.php/shows/theater/kevinklineinhethatplaysaneveningofshakespeare

marywayinjapanUkUSA
marywayinjapanUkUSA

I suspect either the production improved vastly since the writing of this review, or the reviewer and I differ wildly. This is an extremely difficult restoration piece of theater expertly rendered by some of Phoenix's best talent. Difficult, difficult, difficult, did I mention difficult? Yet the words ( and there are a lot of them ) came to life in the context of the actors antics. I laughed, I cried, it was better than Cats. This is precisely why we should rejoice that we have a theater company able to take on the truly challenging pieces of classical text, unafraid. Neither I nor my ADHD date, who is 6'5" and does not normally sit comfortably in a theater, felt it was long... And might consider seeing it again. Hesitated to bring friends because of this review, and now thoroughly regret it. The sets were ingenious and handsome as were the costumes, and all on a shoestring. The cast was superb. Not a weak link among them. Long live Southwest Shakespeare... And woe be unto communities ( and critics ) who cannot support their truly commendable classical theater companies. It does not bode well for them. PLUS Tickets are so cheap we dare not complain! A gift to those of limited means: theater for the people. Oh, and I noticed on the way out, Kevin Kline will be putting in a guest appearance in June. If its good enough for the man they call Kevin 'Decline', I suspect it's good! Please support this wonderful theater company without hesitation or regret, Mary Way

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