The Constant Couple at the Pearl Theater, NYC

I just saw this advertised today in the New York Times.  This play was Peg Woffington’s big break in London, in the role of Sir Harry Wildair.  It’s not a cross-dressed part: she was simply cast as the male lead, with legendary success. 

A wealthy heir and avowed man of pleasure, Harry courts the disreputable Lady Lurewell and the virtuous Angellica, whom he comically mistakes for a prostitute.  The Life of James Quin, Comedien tells a much-repeated anecdote: 

Upon her coming off the stage, in the character of Sir Harry Wildair, [Woffington] said, with no little triumph, ‘Lord, I believe the whole house thinks I am a man.’ – ‘By G-d, Madam,’ says [James Quin], ‘half the house knows the contrary.’

 William Hogarth later painted her in this role.  Perhaps inspired by her success as Wildair, Woffington went on to play Lothario in The Fair Penitent 




 The Constant Couple
by George Farquhar
Directed by Jean Randich
November 13- December 23

Purchase Tickets Online

George Farquhar’s youthful comedy The Constant Couple (1699) invites us into a London teeming with colorful characters. Steadfast Colonel Standard wants nothing more than to win the charming Lady Lurewell. But his way is littered with scheming rivals, troublesome fops, and bumbling rustics, all of whom seem to have some claim on his lady love. Combining all the wicked joy of the jaded Restoration stage with the “novel” notion that faithfulness and integrity might have their uses too, The Constant Couple illuminates a world merrily careening between deceit and honesty, cynicism and hope—between the follies of the past, and the glorious possibilities of the future.

2 responses to “The Constant Couple at the Pearl Theater, NYC

  1. Thanks, Laura, for passing this along.

    The Pearl was a nice walk crosstown in the days when we were living on the east side in the 20s. I remember seeing a different Farquhar there, and Goldsmith’s Good-Natured Man, which I never expected to enjoy, but which turned out to be very pleasant.

    I always wonder whether the post-Restoration drama would get a more respectful treatment if it were performed more often. I don’t get to teach much drama, and so I’ve never invested the time in acquiring the DVDs and audiovisual materials you need, I think, to teach this material effectively.


  2. laurarosenthal

    The Pearl did a wonderful “She Stoops to Conquer” a few years ago, and I really regret missing their production last year of “The Gentleman Dancing Master.” How often does one get to see that performed? I agree that in general we need many more productions of both Restoration AND late seventeenth-century/eighteenth-century drama.