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Restoration comedy - William Wycherley`s "The Country Wife"

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  • Essay length: 2005 words
  • Submitted: 24/09/2004
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GCSE Geoffrey Chaucer

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William Wycherley`s "The Country Wife" is a typical Restoration comedy; its main agenda is sex and how to find it. Not only sex, but STD`s, bed-swopping, adultery and whoring. The ancient critic William Archer once described it as "the most bestial play in all literature". This did not frighten Laurence Boswell (director), his production of Wycherley`s debauched farce animated and enhanced the rife innuendo.

The tale itself is not unusual in its interlacing of complicated plots and sub-plots. Horner (Patrick Robinson), notorious libertine, begins rumours that he has returned from France a eunuch. As the story spreads he is allowed unreserved access to all the wives of `honour` in London with the full consent of their unknowing husbands. Meanwhile the old fornicator Pinchwife ( Karl Johnson) has acquired a country wife (Sara Crowe) and unable to suppress his jealousy, he endeavours to keep her away from fashionable society. He does not have such control over his sister, Alithea (Jaye Griffiths), who intents to slight her genuine admirer and marry the foolish `wit`, Sparkish. Despite the variety of under-currents, Horner himself is at the centre of disruption and will stop at nothing in his devious quest

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