Sunday 17 August 2014

The Beaux' Stratagem

Finished August 11
The Beaux' Stratagem by George Farquhar, adapted by Thornton Wilder and Ken Ludwig

I picked this up just before going in to see the play performed at Stratford. I was buying a t-shirt for my husband in the shop, and they had a small display at the cash. In the intermission, I checked it to verify where we were and found that it did not match the production we were watching. So of course I had to read it over in the next day or two to see where the differences lay.
The story was originally written in 1707 and is a romantic comedy where a couple of financially challenged noblemen play at being a rich nobleman and his servant in order to find rich young women for themselves. They arrive in the town of Lichfield and discover there is a likely young woman, and the one man meets her in church one day and falls hard, as does she. So things are looking well. The young woman has a sister-in-law who is unhappily married to her brother, and a flirtation develops between the other man posing as a servant and her. Meanwhile, there is a gang of highway robbers in the neighbourhood, and they are attached to the inn where the gentlemen are staying.
We enjoyed the production immensely and we were lucky to see many of the top actors at Stratford in it. The print version here has scenes that were dropped from the production, and does not contain scenes that were in the production (from the introduction here, it looks like they were in the original, but dropped from this adaptation). Some of the scenes also seemed to be in a different order, and some of the lines were spoken by different actors. It was enjoyable in its own way, and the introduction alone provided useful information on the history of the play, which is little known.


  1. Glad to hear you've seen this -- I haven't had a chance yet! It's always interesting how a play is shaped and adapted for productions.

  2. Definitely worth seeing, and I've seen that both the Globe and Mail and the Toronto Star gave it great reviews.