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Veanne Cox and Christopher Innvar in The Beaux' Stratagem at The Shakespeare Theatre; PC: Carol Rosegg
Foigard in The Beaux' Stratagem, by Zoffany
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Julia Coffey and Christian Conn in The Beaux' Stratagem at The Shakespeare Theatre; PC: Carol Rosegg

The Beaux' Stratagem

The Beaux' Stratagem

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A comedy by George Farquhar, adapted by Thornton Wilder and Ken Ludwig

In the summer of 2004, the Estate of Thornton Wilder asked Ken Ludwig to complete a play that Wilder had begun in 1939 and never finished. It was an adaptation of The Beaux’ Stratagem, a classic piece of late Restoration comedy written in 1707 by the British playwright George Farquhar (author of The Recruiting Officer). Wilder had made a brilliant start – he’d finished about half of it – and Ludwig was delighted to be asked to complete the rest.

The resulting play received its world premiere production at The Shakespeare Theatre of Washington, D.C. from November 7 to December 31, 2006, directed by Michael Kahn. See: The Shakespeare Theatre's 2006-2007 Season The adaptation will be published in book form by the Theatre Communications Group.

The play, set in 1707 in Lichfield, England, tells the story of two young bucks who, having spent all their money by living too well, leave London and roam from town to town in search of love and fortune. In order to find a wealthy heiress for at least one of them, they pose as master and servant – exchanging roles from one town to the next. In Lichfield, Aimwell is the master and Archer the servant, and there they meet the lovely, wealthy Dorinda and her equally desirable sister-in-law, Mrs. Kate Sullen. They set their caps for these women, but problems abound. Kate is married to a drunken sot who despises her; the innkeeper’s saucy daughter, Cherry, has set her cap for Archer; Dorinda’s mother, Lady Bountiful, mistakenly believes herself to be a great healer of the sick, and she guards her daughter like a dragoness; and a band of brigands plans to rob the house of Lady Bountiful that very night, putting all schemes in jeopardy.

This is a play in the great tradition of Goldsmith’s She Stoops to Conquer and Sheridan’s The Rivals and The School for Scandal. It is classic, formal, robust and hilarious.

For 8 men and 5 women (with doubling). Various locations.


“Funny … The production glides confidently from silly to wry, from the pratfall to the riposte … Suave Christopher Innvar and tart Veanne Cox [are] polished comic actors who seem as smart as the words they utter.”
Peter Marks, The Washington Post

“Perfectly enchanting … It's quick, funny and still capable of taking a swipe or two at convention. Cox is, not to put too fine a point on it, intoxicating.”
Trey Graham, Washington City Paper

“Delicious … The incomparable Nancy Robinette plays Lady Bountiful with maniacal glee.”
Leslie Milk, The Washingtonian

“A delightful romp … A sparklingly funny evening that, under the superb direction of Michael Kahn, plays very well indeed. Innvar is often hilarious.”
Brad Hathaway, Potomac Stages

“A great cast … One of the best nights you'll spend in the theater.”
Grace Cavalieri, The Montserrat Review

“Sheer laugh-out-loud fun … Farquhar, Wilder and Ludwig all had such a good time skewering the institution of marriage … that laughter is the only possible reaction. Kahn has put together a superb production.”
Lucia Anderson, The Free Lance-Star

“Funny is funny! Cox is pure delight. Robinette is exquisite.”
Margaret Lawrence, Culpeper Star-Exponent

“A sparkling production … The dialogue crackles, the characters engage the audience's interest and sympathy, and the whole thing seems almost effortless.”
Susan Berlin,

“Irresistible … A delightful holiday gift.”
Marilou Donahue, Artistically Speaking

“The Beaux Stratagem's satirical portrayal of marriage and courtship is disarmingly charming and witty. One of Shakespeare Theatre's finest performances to date.”
Natalie Koss, On Tap

“Laugh-out-loud comedy … In this strong cast, Veanne Cox is a standout.”
Barbara Greiling, Potomac News

“A romp … with a very funny script and a lively production.”
David Cannon, Sentinel Newspaper


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Washington City Paper

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Relevant Articles

Collaborating With A Master Playwright: Ludwig and Wilder Adapt Farquhar's "The Beaux' Stratagem" by Akiva Fox for "Asides" Magazine of the Shakespeare Theatre Company

A New Stratagem: The Making of the New Adaptation of "The Beaux' Stratagem" by Akiva Fox for "Asides" Magazine of the Shakespeare Theatre Company

Serious Comedy: "The Beaux' Stratagem" At The Shakespeare Theatre by Akiva Fox for "Asides" Magazine of the Shakespeare Theatre Company

Artists' Words At The First Rehearsal of "The Beaux' Stratagem" At The Shakespeare Theatre

About Farquhar by Akiva Fox for "Asides" Magazine of the Shakespeare Theatre Company

What the Critics Have Said About "The Beaux' Stratagem Over the Years by Akiva Fox for "Asides" Magazine of the Shakespeare Theatre Company

Redemption of the Rakes in "The Beaux' Stratagem", by Edward Isser, PH.D..for "Asides" Magazine of the Shakespeare Theatre Company

About the Adaptors of "The Beaux' Stratagem" by Akiva Fox for "Asides" Magazine of the Shakespeare Theatre Company


Work in Progress: "The Beaux' Stratagem" by Lincoln Konkle

Licensing Information

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Production Photos

Pictures from The Shakespeare Theatre Production of The Beaux' Stratagem, Directed by Michael Kahn; PC: Carol Rosegg

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Julia Coffey, Nancy Robinette and Veanne Cox

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Colleen Delany, Drew Eshelman and Rick Foucheux

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Floyd King, Christian Conn and Julia Coffey

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