SSC’s production of "She Stoops to Conquer" runs through April 14 in the Center Theatre at Seattle Center. For tickets or information, call the company box office at 206-733-8222 or visit

At a time when we’re surrounded by political madness and mendacity, Seattle Shakespeare Company offers a hilarious respite.

SSC unleashes a bellyful of mirth in their raucous, romantic romp, “She Stoops to Conquer,” Oliver Goldmith’s 1773 comedic masterpiece.

Directed by Makaela Pollock, “She Stoops to Conquer,” a farcical Restoration comedy, overflows with a mash-up of past and present styles, touting mistaken identities, mischievous trickery, miscommunication, and all manner of light-hearted fiddle-faddle.

Goldsmith’s self-described “laughing comedy” is a revolt against the weepy, “sentimental comedies” of the Georgian era — he called them “bastard tragedies.” He believed the proper target of satire should be human folly in characters from all social classes. Writing “low” or laughing comedy came naturally to Goldsmith, because it gave him free reign to express his contempt for the hypocrisy of polite society.

The play unfolds over 24 hours. Originally titled “Mistakes of a Night,” Goldsmith changed it just before the curtain went up on opening night to the more intriguing “She Stoops to Conquer.”

Squire Hardcastle, an icon of countryside living, arranges for his daughter Kate to meet Marlow, the son of a wealthy, aristocratic Londoner. The two fathers hope the pair will marry.

Young Marlow sets off for the country, accompanied by his BFF, George Hastings, a secret admirer of Miss Constance Neville, the squire’s niece and ward.

Things soon go amuck.

During the journey the two men get lost. Needing directions, they stop by an alehouse. Tony Lumpkin (Basil Harris), Kate’s ne’er-do-well prankster step-brother guesses their identity and mischievously redirects them to a local inn. But that so-called inn is actually Hardcastle’s home. 

The squire (knowing nothing of Tony’s prank) goes out of his way to greet and welcome them, while they look down their noses at him. After all, he’s only a lowly innkeeper.

When Kate (Shanna Allman) and Marlow (MJ Sieber) are introduced, Marlow becomes a bundle-of-nerves wimp, for he is woefully intimidated by high-born ladies. (But let him near a common wench and he becomes a dashing and dallying ladies’ man) 

Kate Hardcastle is a landed-gentry lady, who at first glance is put off by her bumbling London swain. All seems lost, until she cleverly devises a plan; she will masquerade as a serving maid to better know Marlow, her aspiring beau. Thus the title, “She stoops to conquer.”

Meanwhile, the attraction grows between Constance (Jocelyn Maher) and Hastings (Lamar Legend).

But hold your horses.

Tony’s meddlesome mother, Mrs. Hardcastle (Julie Briskman), has managed to get her claws on Constance’s dowry—a cache of jewels—and she’s determined that Constance should marry her wayward son Tony — or else. 

Not so fast.

Tony and Constance despise the thought of marrying each other. She’s actually in love with Hastings. And, in a twinkling, Tony devises a plot of his own.

The madcap action becomes more and more hilarious: witty jokes, physical antics and musical horseplay (a combo of Ska and punk).

SSC’s production shines with its amazing cast. The hilarious MJ Sieber volleys between the shy, awkward aristocrat in the company of high-born ladies to the lecherous lover of lower-class wenches. As Kate, Shanna Allman cleverly reels him in with her delightfully bad imitation of a barmaid. 

Lamar Legend, as Hastings, and determined Jocelyn Maher, as Constance, have us cheering for them as they find their way to true love.

The divine Julie Briskman holds the audience in the palm of her hand as the overbearing, deceptive and outrageous handful, Mrs. Hardcastle. She’s the bane of her son’s existence with riotous results. Basil Harris goes deliciously low as her reckless rascal son Tony Lumpkin, who eventually one-ups his mommy. 

R. Hamilton Wright delivers his usual comic turn in great form as the rustic, blustering Squire Hardcastle, waxing about old times and war stories. He namedrops and drones on about his love of the country, while lambasting the follies of the city.

The original music by Brendan Milburn is performed by the Three Pigeons Band (Evan Mosher, Harry Todd Jamieson and Steven Tran), with Tony (Basil Harris) as lead singer. This critic’s favorite tune is set to a poem by Goldsmith. Some of the lively lyrics go like this, “Toroddle, toroddle, gonna need another bottle, toroddle, toroddle, toroll!”

Designed by Chelsea Cook, the wild, flamboyant, over-the-top costumes flaunt the comedy’s mix-mash concept of past and present. Julia Hayes Welch’s wickedly amusing set design serves as both alehouse and Hardcastle Manor. It reflects the squire’s hunting and fishing obsession. The hilarious but brilliantly menacing wall décor —floor-to-ceiling mounted animal-heads — would have Bambi and Nemo in tears. But it had this critic in stitches.

“She Stoops to Conquer” triumphed when it opened on March 15, 1773, quickly becoming the season’s favorite play. Critics heaped on praise. Goldsmith’s comic genius received the public recognition and rewards he craved, but sadly he died a year later at age 43.

Yet his work lives on. Almost 250 years later, “She Stoops” still delights with its audacious hijinks. Audiences chortle, bray, guffaw, giggle, bend over with laughter, and occasionally lose control of their bladders. The play’s that funny.

Leaving the theater, this critic sang to herself, “Toroddle, toroddle, toroll.”

The bottle would happen when she got home.