SHE STOOPS TO CONQUER (Alumnae). To October 8. 416-364-4170. See listings for details. Rating: NN Rating: NN
Dropped or muffed lines, uneven Brit accents and an undying earnestness slow the pace of Oliver Goldsmith's She Stoops To Conquer , making a two-hour-plus show seem even longer.
As Mr. and Mrs. Hardcastle, Daryl Taylor and Tina Kanarek display the best understanding of the text, and the best appreciation for Goldsmith's wit. Coming in a close second is Sarah Williamson as the heroine, Kate Hardcastle, whose spunk and smile constantly refresh a tired audience.
Like the rest of the cast, she seems to genuinely enjoy what she's doing, and unlike some other cast members, shows a great deal of ability in doing it.
Director P. J. Hammond's staging brings most interactions completely downstage, leaving the actors with nowhere to go but back and forth across the playing space. This two-dimensionality is broken by the occasional calculated burst of physical rowdiness from comic leads Paul Hardy and Jessica Moss as Kate's brother and cousin.
Margaret Spence's breathtaking costumes create much of the mood and period feel. Using a palette of moss greens, salmon pinks and camel brown in velvet, brocade and taffeta, she creates a rich, tactile visual world.