Great Britain’s National Theatre and Macon’s Douglass Theatre will team up this weekend to bring us a little taste of social history and a hefty serving of comedy. George Farquhar’s “The Beaux Stratagem” is a Restoration farce, one of the greatest to reach the stage.
The Restoration, of course, is that period in English history when, following the beheading of King Charles I, Oliver Cromwell and the Puritans ruled the land until the populace realized their mistake and invited Charles II to take the throne.
In a flash, the pendulum swung away from the austerity of Puritan rule to an excess of merrymaking. Theater, banned for a time under the Puritans, now centered on wit and sexuality -- visible even in the NT production’s period costumes.
The plot of “The Beaux Stratagem” follows the adventures of two young gentlemen who have squandered their fortunes in London and are thus forced to adopt a “stratagem.” Their plan calls for the pair to go into the countryside to seek out wealthy women. At their first stop, Aimwell will play a wealthy lord, and Archer will be his servant. Ultimately, the pair succeeds, but not before the complex plot pulls in highwaymen, a crooked innkeeper, a wife with a roving eye, a drunken husband, a maid on the make and others.
While the dissolute pair starts out with purely financial motives, they soon find that they feel genuine love for their quarry, the beauties Dorinda and Mrs. Sullen.
Today we may know that marital discord is no laughing matter, drunkenness is a tragic waste of human potential and marrying someone for the sake of money is frowned upon, but in 1707 is Farquhar credited with being an early progressive thinker -- not to mention one of the great playwrights of the age.
Thanks to the Douglass, Macon is one of a handful of locations in the Southeast where the NT Live productions are being broadcast.
“The Beaux Stratagem”
When: 3 p.m. Sept. 27
Where: Douglass Theatre, 355 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
Cost: $20 adults, $15 students and seniors