The Beaux' Stratagem
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, TalkinBroadway.com
“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
- Shakespeare Theatre Production
-Theatre Jacksonville Production
-Texas Shakespeare Festival Production
Pictures from The Shakespeare Theatre Production of The Beaux' Stratagem, Directed by Michael Kahn; PC: Carol Rosegg
Julia Coffey, Nancy Robinette and Veanne Cox
Colleen Delany, Drew Eshelman and Rick Foucheux
Floyd King, Christian Conn and Julia Coffey