Young George Farquhar: The Restoration Drama at Twilight

Young George Farquhar: The Restoration Drama at Twilight

Young George Farquhar: The Restoration Drama at Twilight

Young George Farquhar: The Restoration Drama at Twilight

Excerpt

The 250th anniversary of the arrival in England of George Farquhar, from Dublin, was appropriately commemorated in the region in which he disembarked. He landed at Chester in the spring of 1697. During the months of May and June, 1947, only thirty miles away in the city of Manchester, his masterpiece The Beaux Stratagem was played for a stated season of four weeks at the Intimate Theatre, with Mr. André Van Gyseghem as Archer and Miss Agnes Lauchlan (memorable as Lady Fidget in The Country Wife of Wycherley) as Mrs. Sullen.

Revivals of the two other principal Farquhar comedies a little earlier may be said to have led up to this anniversary. The Arts Theatre in London had won conspicuous favour with three seasons of Farquhar. Between November and January, 1943-4, The Recruiting Officer ran for fifty-six performances, notable with Mr. Trevor Howard as Captain Plume, Mr. Edward Byrne as Captain Brazen, and Miss Helen Cherry as Silvia. But the play which first put Farquhar into the company of his great compeers, The Constant Couple, better known in his day by its alternative title A Trip to the Jubilee, enjoyed two runs; it was acted twenty-nine times between July and November, 1943, and again thirty-five times between September and March, 1945-6, with Mr. Alec Clunes a very capable Sir Harry Wildair and Miss Avice Landone quite living up to her name as Lady Lurewell.

Thus, for four consecutive years audiences in England have seen Farquhar played. Of no other Restoration dramatist can this be said in the present century.

In attempting a biography of so durable a contributor to English dramatic literature, I have tried not to press too far the received opinion that Farquhar above all his contemporaries of the theatre was an autobiographical author. But there is no disputing that into at least one character in each of his plays he put the character of himself, 'the warm-

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