The Beau Defeated is a little-known Restoration-style comedy of manners written in 1700 by Mary Pix. It concerns Mrs. Rich (Carol Emshoff), a wealthy widow who wants to become a "woman of quality." Her circle of friends includes Mrs. Trickwell (Sheila York) and Lady LaBasset, two women of questionable morals whom Mrs. Rich hopes will help her rise to the social level she hopes to attain so that she may catch the foppish Sir John Roverhead (Steve Deighan). Unbeknownst to Mrs. Rich, Sir John is a bounder who has wooed many wealthy women but currently wishes to marry Mrs. Rich's niece, the coquettish and, of course, wealthy Lucinda.
Also involved in the plot are the Clerimont family. The younger Clerimont (Jack DiMonte) is being wooed by the wealthy Lady Landsworth (Ginger Grace). However, as he is poor, the match is problematic. Enter his cousin, Mrs. Clerimont, who plots to get her other cousin, the wealthy Elder Clerimont (the younger Clerimont's brother), to marry a wealthy woman, thereby allowing him to hand part of his estate over to the younger Clerimont, so that he may marry Lady Landsworth. And who does Mrs. Clerimont hope to marry her wealthy cousin off to? Why, Mrs. Rich, of course.
One of the reasons The Beau Defeated is a lesser-known Restoration play is probably its plot (or rather, plots). With more storylines than a Russian novel, and each one more convoluted than the next, the play is confusing and contrived. While there is some humor, it does not make up for the lack of a single spine upon which the play could support itself.
The production, however, was well done all around. Subtly directed by Geoffrey Tangeman, the piece never dragged, even at two hours and forty-five minutes. While all of the performances were more than competent, some of the leads seemed to have trouble with the flowery language. Standout performances included Kathryn Graybill as the manipulative but well-meaning Mrs. Clerimont, Janet Geist as the evil Lady LaBasset, Brandee Graff as the coquettish Lucinda, and Munro Bonnell as the unsophisticated but benign Elder Clerimont. In the smaller roles of Toby and Mrs. Fidget, Ean O'Donoghue and Elizabeth Arnold were top notch, respectively.
Two of the best aspects of the production were the set and costumes. Bill Kneissl's set was simple, functional, and quite pleasing to the eye. Misty Halliday's costumes were stunning to look at and were a testament to the care that Chain Lightning Theatre put into this production. (Also featuring Blainie Logan, John C. Muntone, Pamela J. Nigro, William Laney, Scott Wood, Mark McGriff, Jeff Casper; lights, Mark Simpson; stage manager, Francys Olivia Burch.)
Copyright 1996 John Attanas
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