The Recruiting Officer at The Donmar WarehouseA surprise all star cast makes The Recruiting Officer at The Donmar Warehouse a real treat. The tickets were bought hastily as a belated Valentine’s Day gift for the pretty one, so I didn’t really have too much time to look at the cast, plus The Donmar is anything but brazen with its advertising.

The tickets were £15 each (plus a small booking fee) for seats to the side of the stage in the circle, which turned out to be within touching distance of most of the performance.

The Recruiting Officer is a bawdy comedy by Irish playwright, George Farquhar, written in 1706. Focusing on the mischief of army recruiting officers Captain Plume and Sergeant Kite as they head to Shrewsbury to find more men for their warring nation.

We quickly find out that Kite is in fact being played by Mackenzie Crook, and as the play starts, it also turns out that Captain Plume is Tobias Menzies (apparently “the hot one” from Casualty). Crook is completely convincing in the role of the slightly twisted but loyal sergeant and Menzies’ delivery of lines and presence on stage is brilliant.

As Plume tries to woowoo the love of Silvia, his friend and confident, Mr Worthy (played by Nicholas Burns, who was Nathan Barley in the cult Channel 4 show by Charlie Brooker and Chris Morris), has his eye on her cousin Melinda. However, Melinda is also toying with the affections of another recruiting officer, Captain Brazen, thanks to the conniving intervention of her maid Lucy (Kathryn Drysdale from Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps).

The biggest surprise of the night (apart from the pretty one getting so excited about the start of the performance that she waved at the cast) was that Brazen is played by Mark Gatiss off of The League of Gentlemen. It was great to see him strutting around on stage in his camped-up, slightly hammed performance of Captain Brazen, capping off a great production at The Donmar.

Despite a few fluffed lines The Recruiting Officer at The Donmar Theatre is a real joy to watch. It’s been given a brilliant old wood set, which makes the clomping of feet a big part of the performance, and a nice musical background to add to the show. The Recruiting Officer itself is a fun play, but it doesn’t fail to portray the realities of war, which are particularly evident in the final scene of the lone recruit sadly going off to his inevitable death.

The Recruiting Officer at The Donmar Warehouse review: 4.5/5

The Recruiting Officer finished on the 14th April 2012.