Gregory G. H. Rihn (milwaukeesfs) wrote,
Gregory G. H. Rihn

American Players Theater "The Belle's Stratagem"

On Saturday the 6th, we made the trek to Spring Green for APT’s production of “The Belle’s Stratagem.” We were very interested in this piece because it is a rarity, a play written by Hannah Cowley, who was a very successful British playwright in the late 1700’s. “The Belle’s Stratagem” was her most famous work, and we (and the rest of the audience) liked it quite a bit better than the lukewarm local paper reviewers.

The plot revolves (sometimes rapidly) around the love lives of two couples who are part of London society: Doricourt, a handsome young gentleman (Marcus Truschinski) and Letitia, a young lady (Colleen Madden) who are scheduled to enter into a marriage arranged by their elders even though they have not met since they were children; and Sir George Touchwood (Jonathan Smoots) and his new, country-bred wife (Carey Cannon), whose innocence of city ways he is intent on preserving. Letitia is disappointed by the indifferent impression she made at the reunion with Doricort, and embarks on an ambitious plan to kindle his regard. Both this plan and Sir George’s domestic bliss are complicated by the intervention of characters from the local ton, including the busybody Mrs. Racket (Sarah Day) and Darragh Kennan as Mr. Flutter, a character that will remain the dictionary image of a “macaroni” in my mind. While some of the major plot elements are a bit dated, many more are still quite current, including the ways in which the envious and the foolish prey upon persons of prominence. The villain of the piece, Courtall, maintains a Don Juan-like list of the ladies he has despoiled; the journalist Crowquill is quite willing to publish scandalous lies as long as he has someone else to blame them on; and Flutter is a compulsive gossip who can’t keep his stories straight and doesn’t care.

Very nice and energetic performances by the whole cast, and they make the plot devices fun and enjoyable if not entirely believable. The audience rewarded the cast with a standing ovation.

The costumes by Robert Morgan are exceptionally well done, with the period clothing for both men and women very lovely. The masquerade scene was most impressive, although I thought some of the neon colors were a bit over the top. The set was merely a collection of empty picture frames, which the cast made good use of to invoke the scenes.
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