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Belle's Stratagem, The

Belle's Stratagem, The

We find ourselves in Georgian Edinburgh where the elegant New Town is springing up all around, and the newly opened Assembly Rooms are the centre of social life and romantic intrigue. Despite being betrothed to him since birth, Letitia Hardy finds herself out of favour with the charming and arrogant Doricourt upon his return from Europe, as he declares that continental woman are so much more sophisticated than 'dull Scottish lassies'. Read more …

Determined not to marry without love, Letitia formulates a hilarious plan to capture his attention: behave so badly that he calls off the wedding, and then seduce him in disguise! Meanwhile, Doricourt’s close friend Sir George, has a beautiful new wife, the country-born Lady Frances. Escaping his overprotective gaze for an afternoon, she draws the attention of the rake, Courtall, who vows to seduce her.

A witty riposte to Farquhar’s The Beaux Stratagem, Hannah Cowley’s rediscovered gem turns the tables on the farcical goings-on and has the women coming out on top.


The critical consensus

Tony Cownie wonderfully presides over a happy marriage of clever writing and brilliant acting, resulting in a frothy production that is a joy from beginning to end.

****(*)Michael Cox, Across the Arts

his glorious production of The Belle’s Stratagem manages the trick of providing a great night’s entertainment at the theatre while delivering a strong societal message about women’s place there.

*****Irene Brown, Edinburgh Guide, 18/02/2018

Cownie and his cast have a riot with this, with the relocated wise-cracks giving things an extra potty-mouthed edge.

****(*)Neil Cooper, Coffee-Table Notes, 18/02/2018

Vivacity, wit and downright stupidity abound in The Belle’s Stratagem at the Lyceum, a production of verve and cheek that produces as much laughter as anything seen on the Edinburgh stage in recent years.

****(*)Hugh Simpson, All Edinburgh Theatre, 18/02/2018

It’s tremendously entertaining and, after an evening of dressing up and role play, it’s Letitia’s final message that hits home: “I’m a woman, I can be anything.”

****(*)Mark Fisher, The Guardian, 19/02/2018

Cownie as director ensures that his ensemble nevertheless works well together, with the whole production remaining larger than the sum of its parts. Familiar in many respects, but fun nonetheless.

****(*)Paul F Cockburn, Broadway Baby, 19/02/2018

The many outstanding comedy performances are the play’s saving grace.

***(*)(*)Sean Robinson, The Wee Review, 19/02/2018

A rollicking riotous dash through Georgian Edinburgh.

****(*)Ben Reiss, Plays to See, 19/02/2018

One day productions such as this will no longer be written, for all the right reasons. For now, we have pieces like this to laugh, share and enjoy.

****(*)Dominic Corr, The Wee Review, 19/02/2018

If The Belle’s Stratagem is not a particularly radical piece of theatre, though, it is a hugely entertaining one.

****(*)Joyce McMillan, The Scotsman, 20/02/2018

A charming production that ultimately rings hollow.

***(*)(*)Gareth K Vile, The List, 20/02/2018

Cownie’s adaptation provides ones of those rare occasions in the theatre in which the riches are distributed equitably among the ten-strong ensemble.

****(*)Allan Radcliffe, 20/02/2018

It's a light-hearted romp through the Enlightenment, but also a sad reminder that many female writers have been forgotten by history.

Seth Ewin, British Theatre Guide, 22/02/2018


Features about Belle's Stratagem, The

Theatre--The Belles Stratagem, The Lyceum

John Kennedy, The Edinburgh Reporter, 15/01/2018

The Belle's Stratagem continues David Greig's campaign to reimagine classic texts

Gareth K Vile, The List, 08/02/2018

Where and when?

Royal Lyceum, Edinburgh from Thursday February 15, 2018, until Saturday March 10, 2018. More info: www.lyceum.org.uk

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