'The Beaux Stratagem' Kicks Off UH Stage Season with Love, Laughs

Restoration Era Comedy Performed Oct. 4 – 13 in Wortham Theatre

Leave it to love to foil a perfect get-rich-quick plot. Partners-in-crime Aimwell and Archer have a plan to woo a wealthy heiress then abscond with her fortune. It seems like a sound strategy … until they find love and friendship with their targets.

George Farquhar’s “The Beaux Stratagem” is a rollicking Restoration comedy that touches on topics still relevant to today’s audiences. Houstonians have an opportunity to revisit this classic at the University of Houston’s Wortham Theatre in October.

Performance times and dates are as follows:

  • 8 p.m., Oct. 4, 5, 10, 11, 12
  • 2 p.m., Oct. 6, 13

Tickets are $20; $15 for faculty, staff and alumni; $12 for seniors; and $10 for students.

The plot follows Aimwell (posing as an aristocrat) and Archer (assuming the role of his servant) as they attempt to plunder the estate of Lady Bountiful. Aimwell sets his sights on Bountiful’s daughter Dorinda as a potential bride but falls in love with her. Meanwhile, Archer finds friendship with Dorinda’s unhappily married sister-in-law Kate. Additional obstacles (including thieves and an amorous innkeeper’s daughter) also hinder their efforts.

Audiences should expect a fast-paced, funny performance that exemplifies the latter part of the Restoration period (or early Georgian era – late 17th century), said director Adam Noble.

“The roots of feminism began around this time, so in this play, we meet strong female characters including Dorinda and Kate,” said Noble, associate professor of theater. “They’re on par with their male counterparts as opposed to being damsels in distress.”

“The Beaux Stratagem” premiered in London in 1707. In 1939, Thornton Wilder began an adaptation that went unfinished for decades. His estate requested fellow playwright Ken Ludwig to complete the adaptation. It was finalized in 2004 and is the version being produced by UH.

“There’s a lot in this play that adheres to the saying, ‘the more things change, the more they stay the same,’” Noble said. “It’s almost hard to see this play as a period piece.”

Noble cites the rise of the middle class in England as one of the play’s creative devices that offer a familiar feel for 21st century theater-goers.

“The play has traces of what we know as the ‘American Dream,’” he said. “It’s the thought that one could rise to the level of the aristocracy by working hard and being smart.”

The UH School of Theatre and Dance produces pre-professional plays, dance concerts, studio productions, a new play festival and school shows through the Theatre for Young Audiences program. The school performs in the Wortham Theatre and the Quintero Theatre. The Houston Shakespeare Festival is a professional project of the school, which is produced each summer at Miller Outdoor Theatre. The UH School of Theatre & Dance offers bachelor’s and master's degrees in theater and teacher certifications in dance and theatre. Its graduate program consists of a Master of Arts in theatre and Master of Fine Arts in theatre with specializations in acting, directing and design.  Alumni include actors Dennis Quad, Jim Parsons, Cindy Pickett, Brett Cullen and Robert Wuhl. Faculty includes Tony Award-winning producer Stuart Ostrow and Tony-nominated designer Kevin Rigdon. Among the greats who have taught at the school in previous years are Lanford Wilson, Sir Peter Hall and Jose Quintero. In 2012 and 2013, the school was named Best College Theater in the Houston Press Theater Awards. For details on UH's School of Theatre & Dance, visit www.theatredance.uh.edu.