May 14 - June 20, 1982, SHE STOOPS TO CONQUER played at Theater 40 in Beverly Hills. In this 18th century setting, James Morrison had the part of Mr. Hastings.

Young Marlow, at the ordering of his father, is traveling to the country estate of his father's best friend, Mr. Hardcastle to explore the possibility of marrying Hardcastle's daughter Kate. Marlow's friend, Hastings, comes along because Kate's cousin and best friend Constance -- Hastings' love interest -- is a ward of the Hardcastle family.

Marlow's only problem is that he is too shy with women of his own social class, though he is quite bold with servant girls. Hastings problem is that, besides Constance, he also values her dowry of jewels which are in the possession of his love's aunt, Mrs. Hardcastle. She wants Constance to marry her son by a previous marriage, Tony Lumpkin.

To thwart Hastings advances, and also -- just for fun -- Tony tricks Marlow and Hastings into thinking that Hardcastle's estate is an inn. So Marlow and Hastings -- especially the snobbish Marlow -- treat the country gentleman like an innkeeper.

More misunderstandings follow, of course. Seeing what a shy ass Marlow is, Kate determines to trick him into thinking she is a servant girl. In that guise she stirs his desire, then through adroit maneuvering Kate raises herself to the status of a gentle relation -- poor but otherwise socially acceptable. Yet as he grows warmer, she grows more aloof.

Meanwhile the ardent young Hastings in pursuit of Constance expostulates, nearly babbling with eagerness and frustration, "My dear Constance, why will you deliberate thus? If we delay a moment, all is lost for ever….Let us fly, my charmer." The object of his affection has only just barely escaped being taken away by her aunt to a three year confinement in the house of a distant relative, and Hastings is all adither at the possibility that she will slip from his grasp. "Let us date our happiness from this very moment." Hastings' feelings have driven him to such a state that a foolish speech escapes his lips, "Perish fortune. Love and content will increase what we possess beyond a monarch's revenue. Let me prevail."

All this does not make Hastings a bad fellow. On the contrary, his willingness to spurn the jewels that are his sweetheart's rightful inheritance is proof that he is no mercenary fortune hunter like his friend. Hastings has a single flaw that must be corrected. Constance, like her friend Kate, must provide the balancing force that will give him an even keel for their journey through life together. Hastings is hasty but Constance is constant. She replies, "No, Mr. Hastings; no. Prudence once more comes to my relief, and I will obey its dictates. In a moment of passion fortune may be despised, but it produces a lasting repentance." Then she adds the climactic line of the play. "I'm resolved to apply to Mr. Hardcastle's (her uncle) compassion and justice for redress."

Kate, however, growing impatient soon urges Marlow to leave - since his serious aims seem to be fixed on fortune. Marlow now proves his own character to be equal of his friend's, as he realizes money is not what he really wants. (And we know all along that this is not only the woman his father wanted him to marry in the first place, but also that she is really rich as well!) Synopsized from review by Bruce Begg for Reader

"James Morrison manages to cut a compelling figure as the handsome resident straight-man Hastings." Patricia Freeman for Los Angeles Herald Examiner

"James Morrison is good as Mr. Hastings, a vital and persuasive performance." Jack Holland for Drama-Logue

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