Charming Restoration piece – The Beaux’ Stratagem at National Theatre, London

Simon Godwin’s production of The Beaux’ Stratagem brings new life into the town of Lichfield in the year 1707.

One night, Aimwell (Samuel Barnett) and Archer (Geoffrey Streatfeild), brothers and “gentlemen of broken fortune” appear at the doors of the inn in Lichfield. In the guise of master and servant, they claim that Aimwell is an aristocrat looking for a wife worthy of his status. Their plan to get rich quickly is to find wealthy heiresses, steal the money and get out of town before anyone sees them.

Dorinda (Pippa Bennett-Warner) and Mrs. Sullen (Susannah Fielding) ©Manuel Harlan
Dorinda (Pippa Bennett-Warner) and Mrs. Sullen (Susannah Fielding) ©Manuel Harlan

In Lichfield, they’ve set their sights on charming Dorinda (Pippa Bennett-Warner), who seems to fall for their spiel falls in love with Aimwell. Her unhappy-in-love sister-in-law Mrs. Sullen (Susannah Fielding) is smitten by Archer’s charms.

The beaux: Geoffrey Streatfeild as Archer and Samuel Barnett as Aimwell. ©Manuel Harlan
The beaux: Geoffrey Streatfeild as Archer and Samuel Barnett as Aimwell. ©Manuel Harlan

Fielding gives a frank but heartfelt performance, advocating divorce during a time when this was still a social stigma. Written by George Farquhar in 1707, The Beaux’ Stratagem touches on social aspects that are still relevant today. The play is broken up with songs and dances, ranging from merry to silly, all accompanied by live musicians on stage.

The Beaux’ Stratagem makes for a merry night, and proves to be a charming and funny Restoration romp.

Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥

 

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