The Provok’d Wife

by Sir John Vanbrugh

directed by Philippa Taylor

Performed at

Avington House


13th to 18th July 1981

Sir John Vanbrugh

Sir John Vanbrugh, dramatist and architect, was born in London and baptized on 24 January 1664. He was the fourth of nineteen children of a wealthy sugar refiner of Flemish descent and his wellborn English wife. The family moved to Chester when Vanbrugh was still a boy. Little else is known of his youth except that he studied in France between 1683 and 1685. He received a commission in the army in 1636 but resigned it by 1689. In Calais in 1690 he was arrested for reasons that are obscure. Subsequently, he spent eighteen months in French prisons; his last confinement was in the Bastille, where he began writing sketches for a comedy. He was finally released in 1692.

In 1695 in London, he saw a production of Cibber’s comedy Love’s Last Shif’. This inspired him to write a sequel to it, The Relapse, or Virtue in Dange’ which was an immediate success in 1696. The following year The Provok’d Wife (thought to be the play started in the Bastille) was presented and became one of Vanbrugh’s biggest triumphs. Most of his succeeding plays were translations or adaptations from the French.

By 1699, having secured for himself a place in the theatre, Vanbrugh embarked on a career as an architect, and, as such, he achieved considerable renown, a remarkable achievement since, as far as is known, he had had no formal training. He first designed Castle Howard, built for the Earle of Carlisle ; his most famous work is Blenheim Palace, built for the Ist Duke of Marlborough. In addition, he was the architect of his own theatre, the Queen’s Theatre, in 1704. In 1702 he was appointed Comptroller of the Board of Works, and he was knighted in 1714.

In 1719 Vanbrugh married Henrietta Yarborough. They had one or possibly two sons. Vanbrugh died in London on 26 March, 1726.

The Players
Sir John Brute James Smith
Lady Brute Mollie Manns
Bellinda Joan Ritchie
Lady Fancyfull Julie Baker
Madamoiselle Jenni Watson
Cornet Marion Gimson
Maid Christine Evans
Heartfree Ken Hann
Constant Bill McCann
Rasor Graham Buchanan
Lovewell Lynda Edwards
Lord Rake Michael Patterson
Colonel Bully David Pike
Landlord Lawrence Till
Tailor Lawrence Till
Constable Brian Whitaker
Watch Mike Johnson
Justice Of The Peace Tony Bull
Chairmen, Servants and Wenches Peter Curtis, Lynda Edwards, Christine Evans, Lawrence Tilly, Martin Taylor, Sandy White, Julia Patterson

For the Maskers:
Director: Philippa Taylor
Production Team
Joy Wingfield, Audrey Whitaker, Ivan White, Clive Weeks, Brian Stansbridge, Ken Spencer, Gill Roberts, Becket Pennington-Legh, Ann Pennington-Legh, Michael Patterson, Christine Morley, Alan Moore, Mike Mcdermid, Steve Hopley, Keith Hooper, Graham Buchanan, Christine Baker, Ann Archer
Costumes:  ‘Deniv Costumes’, Wallingford, Oxon.
Wigs: ‘Wig Creations’ (Mayfair)



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The Echo Review
The Hampshire Chronicle Review

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