As Tony Lumpkin (an engagingly warm and roguish portrait from Victor McGuire), and his cronies at The Three Pigeons pull the dust-covers off the grand staircase of Hardcastle Hall, the theatrical metaphor is established, yet within this artificial framework director Bob Eaton and his cast create characters who have a strong psychological base.
This is not a production in which fans, ruffles and airy 18th century "style" dub it a "period piece" with very little sense of its human element. Here we have believeable characters in an extraordinary situation, and the comedy arises from their foibles: Marlowe's excruciating shyness (the courtship scene is beautifully realised by Jeremy Harrison), Mrs Hardcastle's yearning for the high-life of London and her irritation with her devious son, and traditionally minded husband who "loves everything old".
To November 2. School party concessions. Box Office: 01203 553055.