Year: 2001

Title of the play: The Relapse or Virtue in Danger

Author: John Vanbrugh

Director: Trevor Nunn with Stephen Rayne

Others in the Cast: James Purefoy, John Burgess, Alex Jennings, Adrian Lukis, Imogen Stubbs, Claire Price, Maxine Peake, James Hayes, Nicholas Prideaux. Full cast list 

Company/Event: National Theatre Company

Theatre and location: Olivier Theatre, London

Other productions of the same play: 

Plot summary: Lord Foppington, who has recently bought his peerage, arranges to marry a wealthy country heiress to go with it. But before he can meet her, his younger brother arrives on the scene pretending to be him. Meanwhile, Loveless, a reformed philanderer, arrives in London from the country with his loyal wife Amanda, and they find themselves swept up the intrigues of their friends, Berinthia and Worth.

Peth’s role: Coupler, a matchmaker


This is one of the most delightful evenings London theatre has afforded for a long while. Here is a company of almost 30 actors, boasting some of the cream of British acting talent, presided over by a director whose touch is never less than masterful, giving their all to a rollicking Restoration treat.  - Dominic Cavendish, Telegraph, 23 Jul 2001


The most screaming performance, though, is that of Edward Petherbridge in the small part of the homosexual matchmaker. I won't spoil his best bit of business, which had the house roaring and groaning in its emphatic comment on 17th-century hygiene.- Rhoda Koenig, The Independent, 25 July 2001  


And for those who were wondering...   

We're treated to several show-stopping knees-ups and brawls against Sue Blane's period theatre backdrops, but it's the star turns – that's Jennings and Price, Maxine Peake as Foppington's loveably unspoiled bumpkin bride, and Edward Petherbridge as a nit-ridden matchmaker – that command attention. The Relapse won't stab your vitals; it might just stir them. - Brian Logan, The Independent, 29 July 2001


An unscrupulous homosexual matchmaker, hilariously interpreted by Edward Petherbridge, has arranged for Foppington to marry a rich country heiress, Hoyden, but double deals for profit, also promising her to brother Tom. - Theatre Pro


Aside from that, this is precisely what the National was built to do, and does increasingly seldom: A rich and rare company (a booming Brian Blessed, Edward Petherbridge as a magnificently crumbling matchmaker, Janine Duvitski as the perky maid of all sorts, Imogen Stubbs and Claire Price as the ladies of town and country), in full command of the wide-open spaces of the Olivier, guides us confidently through a plot of classic complexity about mismatched lovers and city dwellers unable to cope with country life. - Sheridan Morley, The New York Times, July 25, 2001

There's a myriad of performances to enjoy, like Maxine Peake's country girl Hoyden with her lusty enthusiasm for the first city man she meets. Janine Duvitski as her lusty governess could be an apprentice Thora Hird. Edward Petherbridge's matchmaking Coupler pops up round town with his briefcase and an eye, plus a hand and lips, for the boys he's marrying off.


James Purefoy's Loveless seems less than Charming but Adrian Lukis is a smooth seducer who deserved to be more successful! I liked Edward Petherbridge's wily lawyer who takes his rewards by kissing young Favour fully on the mouth. - Lizzie Loveridge, CurtainUp

Other reviews:

Terri Paddock, What's on Stage

Production details: Here 

Related links:


Image from the play here

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