George Farquar's 1706 play, The Recruiting Officer, is a Restoration Comedy about the young Captain Plume and his friends as they seduce or trick women into sleeping with them and men into joining up with the military. This merry band of officers includes Captain Plume, a true ladies' man who has fallen for Lady Sylvia, Plume's friend Worthy, who is in love with his old flame Lady Melinda, and Serjeant Kite, a conman who disguises himself as a German fortune teller named Dr. Conundrum. Another recruiting officer, the braggart Captain Brazen, competes with Worthy for Melinda's love (or rather her money). Melinda's servant, Lucy, is in love with Captain Brazen. Hilarity Ensues.
Captain Plume is in love with his benefactor's daughter, Lady Sylvia. Despite her father, Judge Balance, seeing this and giving Plume his blessing, Plume denies having feelings for Sylvia, not wanting to be tied to her through marriage.
The play has been adapted as a musical in 1955 by Bertolt Brecht under the title Trumpets and Drums.
This play provides examples of:
- False Reassurance: In the opening scene, Sergeant Kite is attempting to recruit peasants to the army, and does so using deception of this type. He invites a spectator to put on a soldier's cap, and the man asks, "won't the cap list me?". Kite replies, "No, no, no more than I can." Kite ultimately enlists the whole crowd by tricking them into accepting a "gift" of money and drinking to the King's health.
- Names to Trust Immediately: The protagonist is named Worthy.
- Public Domain Soundtrack: It has an early appearance of the folk song "Over the Hills and Far Away", later made famous to modern audiences through Sharpe.