Scene from The Beaux' Stratagem

Scene from The Beaux' Stratagem

The Beaux' Stratagem, a comedy by George Farquhar, was first performed at the Haymarket Theatre, London in 1707.

Archer, one of the beaux of the title, is wooing Mrs Sullen, the discontented wife of a country squire. In this photograph, Archer is played by John Clements and his wife, Kay Hammond, plays Mrs Sullen. Clements and Hammond were a popular husband-and-wife acting partnership of the mid 20th century and appeared together in a number of 18th century comedies. The Beaux' Stratagem, produced and directed by Clements, was extremely popular and ran for over 500 performances.

The beaux are two fashionable London gentlemen, who, like their creator hope to marry wealthy women. Arriving in Lichfield, where they are not known, they pass themselves off as a lord and his servant. Aimwell, the 'lord', woos Dorinda, sister of Squire Sullen, but Archer prefers the Squire's wife. All ends happily when Dorinda falls in love with Aimwell and, radically for the time, the Squire grants his wife a divorce on the grounds of incompatibility.