I saw it at Southwark Playhouse Saturday (matinee) 14th April 2018 in a production that (slightly weirdly) transferred the costumes to the 1920s but left the dialogue in 1675 (good: don't mess with dialogue!!) The production brought out the bawdy farce elements and added some wonderful moments of physical humour: we all loved the character hiding behind the screen. There was a generally strong cast with some outstanding performances by Sparkish and Pinchbeck, Alithea and Margery.
Horner, a rake, spreads the rumour that he has caught an STD and been rendered impotent. As a result Sir Jaspar Fidget decides to trust Hormer with his wife and daughter and their friend. Meantime Pinchwife's new wife, just up from the country, has seen Horner at the theatre and wants to have an affair with him. Meanwhile Pinchwife's sister, Alithea, is engaged to marry Sparkish whose best friend Harcvourt has fallen in love with her. This is a farce of true love versus cuckoldry, reputation versus honour, and trust versus betrayal.
Lots of innuendoes and double entendres and a fair amount of farce.
Some great lines, although they are often uncomfortably un-politically correct:
- “Women of quality are so civil, you can hardly distinguish love from good breeding, and a man is often mistaken.”
- “Your old boys ... who like superannuated stallions are suffered to run, feed, and whinny with the mares as long as they live, though they can do nothing else.”
- “A mistress should be like a country retreat near the town; not to dwell in constantly, but only for a night and away.”
- “‘Tis as hard to be a good fellow, a good friend, and a lover of women, as ‘tis to be a good fellow, a good friend, and a lover of money.”
- “For my part I will have only those glorious, manly pleasures of being very drunk and there is slovenly.”
- “He can no more think that men laugh at him than that women jilt him, his opinion of himself is so good.”
- “Most men are the contraries to that they would seem.”
- “The little, humbly fawning physician with his ebony cane is he that destroys men.”
- “A marriage vow is like a penitent gamester’s oath, and entering into bonds and penalties to stint himself to such a particular small sum at play for the future, which makes him but the more eager, and not being able to hold out, loses his money again, and his forfeit to boot.”
- “If a woman wants wit in a corner, she has it nowhere.”
- “A beauty masked, like the sun in eclipse, gathers together more gazers then if it shined out.”
- “Nothing makes a man hate a woman more, than her constant conversation.”
- “Loving alone is as dull as eating alone.”
- “Marrying to increase love is like gaming to become rich; alas, you only lose what little stock you had before.”
- “A secret is better kept ... by a single person than a multitude”