Having only just finished a run of the West End musical BETTY BLUE EYES, and with a their current youth production taking a short rest for three days to accommodate, Pick Me Up present She Stoops to Conquer; by one of the most popular eighteenth century English writers, Oliver Goldsmith. Having previously staged a specially commissioned performance for a very special 80th birthday party at the Tom Stoppard Theatre, Pocklington School, the company, led by Mark Hird as Mr Hardcastle, accompanied by Juliet Waters as Mrs. Hardcastle, revive their production for just three performances at the York’s Joseph Rowntree Theatre.

Mark Hird proves once again just how versatile an actor he is. From eccentric Uncle Fester in their production of THE ADDAMS FAMILY last October, to law abiding meat inspector Mr. Wormold in the recent production of Betty Blue Eyes, he is a delight to watch as Mr. Hardcastle, the father of Kate Hardcastle, who is later mistaken by Marlow and Hastings as an innkeeper. Hardcastle is a level-headed countryman who loves "everything old" and hates the town and the "follies" that come with it. He is very much occupied with the 'old times' and likes nothing better than to tell his war stories and to drop names, such as the Duke of Marlborough, into conversations. Hardcastle cares for his daughter Kate, but insists that she dress plainly in his presence. It is he who arranges for Marlow to come to the country to marry his daughter. Hardcastle is a man of manners and, despite being highly insulted by Marlow's treatment of him, manages to keep his temper with his guest until near the end of the play. Hardcastle also demonstrates a wealth of forgiveness as he not only forgives Marlow once he has realised Marlow's mistake, but also gives him consent to marry his daughter.

Sam Baxter was a huge hit with the audience as Tony Lumpkin, the son of Mrs Hardcastle and stepson to Mr Hardcastle. With a mischievous nature, Tony is an uneducated playboy. Sam portrays the role with precision, he is loveable and humorous with just the right amount of slapstick comedy thrown into his role. The show even boasts a cameo from company Director Robert Readman as servant Roger.

With a few of the cast members also having roles in the company's production of Les Misérables (including Sam Hird as Jean Val Jean in Les Mis and Young Marlow in She Stoops To Conquer) showing once again what versatile and devoted cast members are part of the Pick Me Up team. The amount of time and energy individual cast members put into each and every performance is phenomenal, each night as professional and as fresh as they were on opening night.

Steph Bolsher played the role of daughter Kate Hardcastle with ease, with a humorous transformation from an upper class elite to lowly barmaid, where she stoops to conquer and win the love of Marlow (Craig Kirby).

It is hard to believe that the original production of "She Stoops To Conquer" first opened in London in 1773 at Covent Garden Theatre, yet it is still as popular today and has had many revivals. The most recent revival was that at the National Theatre in January 2012, which started ITVs Katherine Kelly as Kate Hardcastle. The play is still a firm favourite for use in the study of English literature and theatre classes in Britain and the United States. It has been adapted into a film several times, including in 1914 and 1923. Initially the play was titled Mistakes of a Night, and indeed, the events within the play take place in one long night.

With only two more performances (Monday 22nd and Tuesday 25th), and for a bargain price of £10 per ticket, I can highly recommend this fantastic production. Although not my usual theatrical taste, with such a fantastic cast and overall consistent high quality performances from this fantastic York based theatre group, the company could act out a fortnights' worth of television adverts and still make them seem spectacular and West End quality. Tickets for the remaining two shows are still available via their website www.pickmeuptheatre.com and a few tickets also remain for the remaining performances of Les Misérables which will reunite the students at the barricade from Wednesday evening through to Saturday evening, with a matinee performance on the Saturday.

Reviewer: Lottie Davis-Browne

Reviewed: 21st February 2016