Pippa Bennett-Warner (Dorinda) and Susannah Fielding (Mrs Sullen) © Manuel Harlan
By MICHAEL CAINES
A postscript to those 101 Greatest Plays: when it comes to eighteenth-century plays in English, Michael Billington understandably sticks to the conventional few comedies that are still performed today. If I were to play the same parlour game, however, I’d pick George Farquhar’s last (and now somewhat less popular) comedy, The Beaux’ Stratagem, over Billington's choice, The Recruiting Officer.
The Stratagem, as it became casually known in the eighteenth century (cf. The Dream, a current abbreviation for one of Shakespeare's most popular plays), happens to be playing at the National Theatre at the moment. It's nearing the end of its run, however, so there are only a few more chances to catch it and see what an extraordinary piece it still is. At least as refurbished, shall we say, by Patrick Marber and the revival’s director, Simon Godwin. . .