(Michael Billington’s article appeared 1/31 in the Guardian.)

The great period comedies have either been neglected or indifferently revived of late. So it is a joy to see Oliver Goldsmith's 1773 classic back at the National after a 10-year gap. Although understandably many eyes will be turned to Coronation Street's Katherine Kelly, Jamie Lloyd's production is a collective success which leaves the theatre echoing with the sound of the audience's happiness.

It is its mixture of wit and warmth that keeps Goldsmith's comedy alive. The plot, in which two blades are tricked into mistaking a country house for an inn, is developed with great ingenuity. There is also much psychological truth in the idea that one of the young men, reared in the sexual seclusion of the well-to-do, is a tongue-tied wreck with girls of his own class, and relaxed only with his social inferiors. But, although this a comedy of confusion and mistaken identity of place, the good nature that endeared Goldsmith to his contemporaries shines through every polished line of the piece.


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