If you fancy a feel-good romp full of laughter, sexual innuendo, witty repartee, sword fights and live music, then The Recruiting Officer is for you.
Brought to Trinity College Gardens later this month by the brilliant Oxford Theatre Guild, the ‘entertaining and sumptuous show’ is restoration comedy at its best.
Directed by OTG’s Ruth Readshaw, it is set during the reign of Queen Anne just after the battle of Blenheim when Britain needed to recruit lots of men into the army to send to Europe, in numerous underhand ways.
Written in 1706 play by the Irish writer George Farquhar, it follows the social and sexual exploits of two officers, the womanising Plume and the cowardly Brazen, in Shrewsbury to recruit soldiers.
Throw in a lot of physicality, the dastardly Sgt Kite and love interest Silvia who tries to enlist as a boy to enable her to be with Plume, and you’ve got a drama ready to unfold.
“I completely fell in love with it. It’s a remarkable play,” Ruth says. “It’s very funny and was an immediate success in 1704, second only to Hamlet, and the first play to be ever be performed in New York City and Australia.
“It was very innovative at the time because it follows restoration comedy tradition which allows women on the stage for the first time, so Silvia is a very modern character considering the gender fluidity and sexual politics of the time.”
Trinity College is OTG’s ‘spiritual home’ and OTG is delighted to return there, after five years because of building works and Covid. “It’s such an incredible space and setting and as there is a river to traverse in the play, we have constructed a corridor with the audience on either side, so its quite immersive with the two stages at each end.”
One will house the live band, who play marching tunes and some folk songs so you can expect a lot of singing and dancing.
With a cast of 15, lots of professional theatre companies cannot afford to stage The Recruiting Officer, Ruth says: “We are really excited about it. It’s been a big effort and been quite a journey, but it’s been great fun so we just hope we can attract some really good audiences.
“And with so much Shakespeare on in Oxford in the summer, we wanted to offer something a bit different.”
With a bar and cafe onsite for snacks and drinks, and inside theatre access in case it rains, The Recruitment Officer all set to go.
The Recruitment Officer runs from July 11-22, 8pm-10.30pm, with a matinee on July 15. Book here https://www.ticketsoxford.com/events/the-recruiting-officer
Age recommendation 12+