A Staged Reading of “The Recruiting Officer”

Friday, October 11  •  10:00 pm – 11:20 pm in the Carousel Theatre

Please join us following the production of Our Country’s Good for a staged reading of George Farquhar‘s The Recruiting Officer, the comedy actually performed by those first fleeters.

Mix and mingle with the cast of Our Country’s Good while enjoying light refreshments between performances.

Plot Summary of The Recruiting Officer

by Misty G. Anderson

Kite and Plume are working Shrewsbury for army recruits among the local poor and unlettered; Kite drums them up and Plume closes the deals. It is also the home of Plume’s beloved, Sylvia, whose father, Justice Balance has decided that his old favorite Plume is no longer good enough for her once Sylvia’s brother dies and she becomes heiress of the family estate (which generates roughly $250,000 a year). Plume and Sylvia have been doing a bit of a mating dance (he has made it clear he wants to sleep with her, she has made it equally clear that she’s not that kind of girl, though we can she she’s interested). The prospects are looking dim for either sex or marriage now that she’s really rich.

Parallel to their entanglement, Melinda, Sylvia’s cousin, has been pursued by Worthy, whom she turned down when she too came into a larger than expected inheritance. Jealousy leads her to try to undermine Plume’s chances with Sylvia as she continues to dangle Worthy. Tortured by her uncertainty, Worthy believes that the flashy captain Brazen, a competing recruiting officer, is his rival, a belief which Melinda uses to raise Worthy’s jealousy. When her father tries to ship her off to the country, away from Plume, Sylvia instead dresses in her brother’s clothes and becomes “Jack Wilful” to test her man’s devotion. This is to the point, as Plume has already fathered a bastard child with a lower-class woman as of the play’s opening and is once again offering small gifts and suggestive favors to Rose in exchange for her help recruiting her brother Bullock and her former boyfriends.

Kite brings Wilful to Plume as a recruit, and Plume and Brazen fight over who will get him.  “Jack” tries out his masculine charms on Rose, who falls immediately; they spend the night together, though Rose is a wee disappointed by morning. Meanwhile, Melinda goes to a fortune teller (Kite, in disguise) who uses a handwriting trick and the “devil” under the table to convince her that Worthy really is the man for her. The trick conveniently sets up her maid, Lucy, with her signature, which she uses to try to ensnare Captain Brazen for herself. When Worthy realizes the good news, he goes to tell his buddy Plume only to find out Melinda appears to be eloping with Brazen, and he’s crushed again.

But all’s well that ends well. It was Lucy, after all, posing as Melinda to elope with Brazen. Melinda finally and happily agrees to marry Worthy. Judge Balance calls “Jack Wilful” to the bench for ravishing Rose but, before father and Plume, reveals herself to be Sylvia at last. Plume agrees to resign his commission from the army and marry her. Plume gives Brazen the recruits he’s gained as a consolation prize to Brazen, who did not get the girl or her money. And Kite’s sketchy recruiting practices get a pass from the court.