Oooh! I do like a nice revival!
Steeping myself as I am in Regency theatre research for the Work In Progress, I was overjoyed to open the latest Theatre Royal brochure and discover that the main Restoring the Repertoire play this Autumn is He's Much To Blame by Thomas Holcroft.
Holcroft was one of a band of radical thinkers who sought to change people's opinion by means of incorporating telling scenes and speeches into his plays. Very witty and sharply executed, a lot of the exchanges on stage are as true today as they were 200 years ago. Billed at the time as a comedy, He's Much To Blame (first performed in 1798, but they'd still have been putting it on in the Regency era) nevertheless produces moments of stark tragedy designed to make the audience stop and think.
So what's the story? Maria has come to town disguised as a man in order to prevent her brother (Delavel) and her erstwhile suitor (George Versatile) from fighting a duel. George had been going to marry Maria until he was suddenly taken rich and had his head turned by Society.
George has now fallen in with Lord and Lady Vibrate and their celebrity German doctor Gosterman. Versatile by nature as well as by name, he has lost his own true self in making himself pleasant to everybody and has apparently forgotten the love he left behind. Lady Vibrate (who lives only for pleasure) wishes him to marry her daughter Jane. Jane, however, is in love with Delavel.
And - as could only happen in a play - all of them are now staying in the same hotel!
The Bury St Edmunds production was an absolute joy, and as I had secured a seat in the box right on the stage again, I felt as if I had slid not only into the past, but also into the play itself.
And on Monday the cast is taking a day off(!) to do a rehearsed reading of Holcroft's comedy The Road To Ruin. I am a very happy Regency writer.