The Provoked Wife, RSC Stratford Upon Avon, 4****; Rod Dungate

Stratford Upon Avon

The Provoked Wife: John Vanbrugh


RSC, The Swan

Runs: 3h.15m, one interval, Stratford till 7TH September 2019

Box Office: 01789331111



Review: Rod Dungate, 18th May 2019

Restoration plays, Comedy of Manners plays, are notoriously difficult to bring off. But Phillip Breen and his team achieve it; their production shows Vanbrugh’s play to be a careful and detailed examination of love, marriage, duty, responsibility. And with built-in laughter.

This current reading may or may not be Vanbrugh’s original intention for it is seen though our 21st Century eyes. But it feels both true to him and true to us, today. The production is a glorious achievement. Phillip Breen directs with knowledge, intelligence, and whit.

The production is not always easy going; Vanbrugh gives each of his broad range of characters opportunities to express their views; these result in fascinating debates, and, together, build to Vanbrugh’s debate. It is a strong acting company, many actors making welcome returns to Stratford.

Alexandra Gilbreath is Lady Brute, portraying with great skill the turmoil of a woman trapped in a horrid marriage to a vile Sir John Brute, a brutish Jonathan Slinger. Lady Brute’s eye lights upon Constant, played by Rufus Hound; he plays with gentle humour and extraordinary warmth, drawing us into his world. Constant is Partnered by Heartfree, John Hodgkinson in great comedic form. Lady Brute’s niece, Bellinda is drawn into the turmoil, a feisty young woman in Bellinda Dew’s performance.

Much humour is drawn from Vanbrugh’s replacement fop, Lady Fancyfull; Caroline Quentin in great form swooping and whooping around the acting space much to our delight.

If you are happy to give yourself up to this detailed discussion much pleasure awaits you. The Provoked Wife is a bit of a rarity but the rewards to be gained are well worth the effort.

Sir John Brute: Jonathan Slinger

Lady Brute: Alexandra Gilbreath

Belinda: Natalie Dew

Razor: Steve Nicholson

Lovewell: Polly Edsell

Constant: Rufus Hound

Heartfree: John Hodgkinson

Lord Rake: Carl Prekopp

Colonel Bully: Les Dennis

Lady Fancyfull: Caroline Quentin

Mademoiselle:Sarah Twomey

Cornet: Isabel Adomako Young

Piper: RosalindSteele

Treble: Tony Webster

Tailre: Nicolia King-N’da

Watch: Ben Roddy

Constable: Alison Halstead

Justice of the Peace: Kevin N Golding

Porter: Pete Ashmore

Sevants: Pete Ashmore, Ben Roddy

Director: Phillip Breen

Designer: Maark Bailey

Lighting Designer: Tina MacHugh

Composer: Paddy Cunneen

Sound Designer: Dyfan Jones

Movement Director: Ayse Tashkiran

Fight Director: Renny Krupinsky

Company Voice and Txt Work: Kate Godfrey

Assistant Director: Noah Wagner

Casting Director: Helena Palmer

Production Photo: Pete LeMay

ReviewsGate Copyright Protection