About The Recruiting Officer

Wednesday 15th February 2012

The Recruiting Officer
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Last night, George Farquhar’s 1706 comedy The Recruiting Officer opened at the Donmar Warehouse. This is the first play directed by Josie Rourke, the new artistic director here. Bearing in mind how she inventively remodelled the auditorium of the Bush, her previous venue, I was wondering what she would do with the space at the Donmar, which is much more inflexible. I needn’t have worried. In the auditorium, designer Lucy Osborne has removed the inside walls, giving a broader depth of vision, and she has created a rural Shropshire barn, which nods to the play’s country folk, with a large candle-covered screen which evokes the play’s upper-class interiors while its sky blue colour alludes to its open-air scenes. Coloured lights festooned the whole theatre, and cast members played jigs and reels as we went in. It was one of the most warm and wonderful welcomes I have ever enjoyed, and all entirely in keeping with the spirit of the play. And then the players lined up and began to make strange sounds on their instruments. What was going on? Gradually, the audience understood: they were imitating mobile phones, a parody of all those pre-show announcements. And a reminder to turn them off. Great stuff.

© Aleks Sierz

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