The Internet Theater Magazine of Reviews, Features, Annotated Listings


SEARCH CurtainUp



NEWS (Etcetera)



Los Angeles






Free Updates
NYC Weather
A CurtainUp Review
She Stoops To Conquer
David Lohrey
Is there a creature in the whole country, but ourselves, that does not take a trip to town now and then, to rub off the rust a little?
---Mrs. Hardcastle
 Celeste Ciulla  & Christopher Moore
Celeste Ciulla & Christopher Moore (Photo: Carol Rosegg)
The Pearl Theatre Company has gained a deserved reputation for producing classical work with daring. It is an expensive, heroic effort on the part of this sturdy company, whose productions often display competence and vitality if not always imagination and flair. This season promises what few companies would even contemplate. Goldsmith, Lessing, Shakespeare, Shaw and Kelly: most theatres would go broke producing just two of these authors. That the Pearl even offers such a rich and varied season makes them unique and deserving of a devoted following.

She Stoops to Conquer has had a loyal following since it entered the English repertory some two hundred years ago. So much of what we come to expect from English comedies is there in this marvelous work. Here we find verbal wit, sexual escapades, droll philosophy, and grand pretensions. It would be hard to imagine Wilde's Lady. Bracknell without Oliver Goldsmith's Mrs. Hardcastle. Indeed, Goldsmith can be said to have set the standard for much of what we now know as drawing room English comedy. Without Goldsmith, there would be no Stoppard, no Coward, no Ayckbourne. Chuck Hudson directs with confidence. He keeps his able cast moving about the Pearl's rather awkward stage with necessary speed. Nothing kills comedy quicker than slow pacing. It is a tribute to Mr. Hudson and this company that nobody lags behind. This is no easy task, due to the Pearl's oddly constricted permanent stage which forces the players to enter and exit off raised platforms.

John Camera (Mr. Hardcastle) and Sally Kemp (Mrs. Hardcastle) more than manage their respective parts as the country house host and hostess. Camera and Kemp have the perfect bodies and the right combination of arrogance and insecurity to pull off these marvelous comic roles. Kemp especially commands the stage with her distinct and distinctive voice. This is not to take anything away from Camera, whose presence reminded me of W. C. Fields at his best, the bumbler who thinks highly of himself. Together Camera and Kemp keep the show honest, each proving that Americans can pull off English comedy.

The youngsters do well, too. Celeste Ciulla as daughter Kate has a marvelously winning appearance, at once innocent and bashful, and then suddenly and perfectly cunning and manipulative. Ms Ciulla's classic beauty doesn't hurt either. She is a joy to watch on stage. Christopher Moore and Scott Whitehurst make a most effective team as men about town. Moore's Marlow and Whitehurst's Hastings insinuate themselves into the Hardcastle estate, proving great comic timing as the haughty interlopers. They both have strong stage voices and carry themselves with a palpable swagger. Whitehurst especially struck me as an actor of real potential.

There are few missteps, and none worth mentioning. The rest of the cast performs admirably. Worthy of note is Jay Stratton's Tony Lumpkin, obnoxious and hateful in his mischief making. Edward Seamon (Sir Marlow) and Dominic Cuskern (Diggory) round out what is an altogether solid company of performers.

The season is off to a great start. One can't wait to see the rest of the Pearl's selection of proven stage selections.

Written by Oliver Goldsmith.
Director: Chuck Hudson.

Cast: John Camera, Sally Kemp, Jay Stratton, Celeste Ciulla, Eunice Wong, Christopher Moore, Scott Whitehurst, Edward Seamon, Mary Molloy, Dominic Cuskern, Stewert Carrico, John Livingstone Rolle.
Lighting Design: Stephen Petrilli.
Costume Design: Daryl A. Stone.
Running Time: 3 Hours including one 15-minute intermission
The Pearl Theatre Company at 80 St. Marks Place, NYC, (212) 598-9802.
Opens 9/221/2002 thru 11/10/02. In Repertory, check schedule with theatre.
Tickets $30 weekdays and Saturday matinees, $40 Friday and Saturday evenings -- $10 Student and Senior rush tickets available one hour prior to performance. TDF vouchers accepted
Reviewed by David Lohrey based on performance of 10/02/02.

metaphors dictionary cover
6, 500 Comparative Phrases including 800 Shakespearean Metaphors by CurtainUp's editor.
Click image to buy.
Go here for details and larger image.

The Broadway Theatre Archive


©Copyright 2002, Elyse Sommer, CurtainUp.
Information from this site may not be reproduced in print or online without specific permission from