Last weekend the Farrer Theatre hosted George Farquhar’s The Beaux’ Stratagem. It was directed by Dr Liviero and was the first in-person school play for over a year.
The comedy, first produced at the Theatre Royal in 1707, recounts the story of Archer and Aimwell. The two penniless beaux (translated as ‘immoral men’) were superbly played by Year 13 students Jack F and Harry B, who begin the play en route for Lichfield, armed with only two hundred pounds and a desire to connive their way to a fortune.
They are hosted by the local landlord Bonifaceand his daughter Cherry, who falls hopelessly in love with the devious Archer. Boniface is in league with the local highwaymen, led by ‘Captain’ Gibbet and played menacingly by Nick P, who joins him in conspiring to rob the home of the appropriately-named Lady Bountiful
Meanwhile, the two beaux become acquainted with the local gentry and a series of comedic situations ensure, most notably when the dastardly Count Bellairattempts to woo Mrs. Sullen, whilst her husband, the drunken Squire Sullenlistens on!
Dorinda and Mrs. Sullen fall in love with ‘Lord’ Aimwell and Archer respectively, with Foigard, a sombre Irish priest pretending to be French, helps Archer to hide in Mrs. Sullen’s closet. That night, Gibbet and his incompetent band of highwaymen attempt to rob Lady Bountiful’s house, but are stopped by Aimwell and Archer, who was, of course, already conveniently present in Mrs. Sullen’s room.
The play finishes on a happy note with the marriage of Dorinda and Aimwell, who inherits his uncle’s title. Simultaneously, Mrs. Sullen is freed from her unhappy marriage, whilst Squire Sullen’s estate is transferred to her brother, the irreproachable Sir Charles Freeman.
Special mention must also go to Scrub (Toby T) and Gipsy (Lucas M), servants of Lady Bountiful who find themselves inextricably linked to the events of the play, as well as all involved both front and backstage who helped to put together such a wonderful play.
It was fantastic to see the Farrer filled with actors and theatregoers once again, delighting in detailed costumes, rip-roaring farce and the joy of performing.