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. 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.