The Recruiting Officer by George Farquhar: Creating Comedy through Interaction and Collusion

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Throughout the play The recruiting Officer by George Farquhar, it is clear that Captain Plume and Kite have a suspicious collusion that cons and lures unsuspecting simpletons to join their cause. Through this interaction, comedy can be created through the use of asides, winks, nudges and even subtle tones they use in their dialogue with one another. There are several scenes in which I believe this comedy can be easily shown.

The first scene that this can be seen clearly is Act 1 Scene 1. In this scene we are introduced to Kite and Plume, and from the very outset their unsavoury pursuits can be seen. For example, within the first few lines of the pair meeting, they are talking about Kite's successful recruiting. When Kite tells him he has enlisted an attorney, Plume replies, “An attorney! Wert thou mad? List a lawyer! Discharge him, discharge him this minute.” “Because I will have no body in my company that can write; a fellow that can write, can draw petitions”. From this it should be clear to the audience that he is concerned by having a writer in the company. This statement should exaggerate the comedy by Plume's reaction to hearing of the attorney being enlisted. I would direct my actor to be relatively composed and relaxed while initially talking to Kite, with relaxed shoulders and slow, casual movements and slightly slumped posture. As Kite mentions the attorney, I would have him tighten up, adopting a straight posture to show his nerves and unease. This should be funny to the audience because they can see how nervous that makes him, giving the impression of a stereotypical recruiting officer who tricks his victims into joining but is afraid of petitions against them. To reiterate the comedy that should be created, I would instruct my actor to say the second half of the line to the audience: “a fellow that can write, can draw petitions”. Saying this with raised eyebrows and rolling his eyes while saying it should create humour to the audience, making them...
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