The Provoked Wife

No, not me but a fantastic Restoration comedy at the Swan Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon

Once again, the Swan Theatre is staging a little known and little performed comedy from the late 17th Century. This is something that they do so well and we are never able to resist the performances.

Written in 1697, this Restoration comedy proved controversial at the time of its release due to its themes of marital adultery. John Vanbrugh’s typically sexually charged play deals with women’s rights, deceit, distraction and unfaithfulness – all to the backdrop of 17th century England.

Lady Brute seeks distractions from her rude, boorish and drunken husband Sir John Brute. Theirs, it seems, is a marriage of convenience: wed for sex and wealth respectively. Secretly however, she finds solace in a dashing male suitor named Constant – seemingly the antithesis of her obnoxious and disrespectful husband. It appears, however, the pair’s infidelities are not secret to all. The vain, jealous and aptly named Lady Fancyfull has caught wind of the situation. She also vies for the affection of Heartfree – obsessed to the point of disguising herself as his wife in order to throw Belinda off the scent.

The Provoked Wife has all the ingredients of an excellent Restoration romp, with a fabulous cast, which included Caroline Quentin as the deluded Lady Fancyfull. It was a wonderful performance and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.