She Stoops to Conquer



  • Oliver Goldsmith's classic comedy, first performedin 1773 at Covent Garden. On opening night, Goldsmith's friends stationedone of their number with "the most contagious laugh" inan upper box, hoping that every time he laughed the rest of the audiencewould join in. The ploy was unnecessary, as the play proved an immediatesuccess and has remained popular ever since.

    In the plot Young Marlow and a friend are tricked into mistakingMr Hardcastle's house for an inn; consequently they treat him as thelandlord and his daughter, Kate, as a servant. Marlow, who is painfullyshy with women of his own class but forward with serving wenches,pays avid court to Kate while his friend pursues her cousin. By thetime the misunderstanding is cleared up, two matches have been made.

    Goldsmith had himself made a similar mistake. When travellingin Ardagh he had asked for "the best house" in the area,meaning an inn, and was directed to the home of Sir Ralph Featherstone.Sir Ralph saw the mistake but played along, allowing Goldsmith totreat the family to their own wine and not ending the joke until,on departing, his visitor asked for the bill.