Two dashingly handsome British guys searching for love in all the wrong places is at the heart of Hanford High School's next comedic play, The Beaux' Stratagem.
It opens May 18 in the school's black box theater in Richland.
The guys are Tom Aimwell, played by senior Jansen Leggett and Jack Archer, played by Tyler Zirker, a junior.
The characters are actually brothers who are down on their luck, flat broke and on the hunt for rich heiresses to bamboozle into bailing them out of trouble. The victims they have in mind are ladies Dorinda and Kate.
But while the brothers are plotting their scheme at a nearby inn, other unsavory fellows are planning to rob Dorinda and Kate's manor house.
The shenanigans that unfold make for some pretty funny dialogue, said Deb Donahoe, who is co-directing the comedy with Peggy Painter.
"When I first read this script, I was impressed by how tight it was," she said. "Each character and scene moved the play along at a rollicking pace. The witty prose and captivating characters drew me into the play."
There's also the eccentric Lady Bountiful, her often soused and grumpy son Lord Sullen, a greedy innkeeper and his daughter who are in cahoots with a gang of hooligans led by a preacher.
"Working with such an amazing and energetic cast has been a blast, and there is never a dull moment on stage and off," said Samantha Fenton, a sophomore who plays Dorinda. "The natural comedic timing of all the actors in phenomenal."
Her costar, Katie Walsh, who plays Kate, agreed.
"The vast range of humor from biting sarcasm to slapstick really proves this show has something for everyone," she said.
Zirker has as much love for the lines he gets to deliver as he does for acting.
"I love how ridiculous my character Jack Archer is," he said. "I also learned several useful skills (as part of the cast,) such as sword fighting and Medieval line-dancing."
Donahoe adds that the audience may want to root for Archer to succeed in his quest to deceive the innocent Dorinda and marry for money.
"Even the highway men have laudable goals and ambitions. When you add in Lady Bountiful who sees herself as a doctor but kills more people than she cures, and an innkeeper who is trying to marry off his daughter to raise his place in society, the stage is set for a hilarious play," she said.
But in addition to the quirky characters and slapstick, the cast loves the storytelling.
"Behind all of the jokes we tell a real story," Walsh added. "That's what theater is about, telling the truth."
The Beaux' Stratagem continues May 19 and 24-25. Curtain time is 7:30 p.m. for all performances. Admission is $8 for adults and $6 for students and seniors. Tickets are available at the door. Production is appropriate for high school and older audiences.
*Dori O'Neal: 582-1514; firstname.lastname@example.org