Click here!


Theatre Review: The Belle's Stratagem ****

Michael Cox reviews a production filled with 'delicious moments of comedic frenzy'.

The Belle’s Stratagem is an odd beast. It looks like a traditional well-made play from centuries ago—the type of play the Lyceum would have performed more readily before more recent attempts at modernising the theatre’s seasons. It looks lush and is filled with powerful, posh characters dripping in privilege.

But scratch the surface and the play shows itself to be a much richer piece. Look past the shallow set up, and a witty feminist-minded production is revealed.

Is there a plot? Of sorts. The play has two main plot threads, each centred on a different couple: the first follows a woman’s attempt at becoming more alluring to a man she’s betrothed to but who seems a bit indifferent, the second a recently married man wanting to shield his innocent country wife from the evils of society.

The play doesn’t really care about plot, so why should we? It is merely an excuse to spend time with roughly a dozen characters, each larger than life and capable of sharp wit and cunning one-upmanships. Some characters are around for a handful of scenes while others heavily feature throughout, but each is a fully realised creation.

Tony Cownie wonderfully presides over a happy marriage of clever writing and brilliant acting, resulting in a frothy production that is a joy from beginning to end. His adaptation, moving the dramatic action to Edinburgh’s New Town in late 18th century, is peppered with local references and hilarious banter, while his cast give a practically flawless ensemble performance with each actor having at least half a dozen delicious moments of comedic frenzy.

Looks can be deceiving. The Belle’s Stratagem might appear to be a safe, haughty romp but is actually one of the sharpest comedies to hit a Scottish stage in some time.

The Belle’s Stratagem performs at the Royal Lyceum in Edinburgh until March 10.

Tags: theatre

Comments: 0 (Add)

To post a comment, you need to sign in or register. Forgotten password? Click here.

Find a show

Search the site

Find us on …

Find us on FacebookFollow us on TwitterFind us on YouTube