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LCA Theatre Visit ‘The Provoked Wife’
August 31, 2019 @ 13:30
The Provoked Wife is a comedy, but Elizabeth Barry who played the abused wife was especially famous as a tragic actress, and for her power of “moving the passions”, i.e., moving an audience to pity and tears. Barry and the younger Bracegirdle had often worked together as a tragic/comic heroine pair to bring audiences the typically tragic/comic rollercoaster experience of Restoration plays. Vanbrugh takes advantage of this scheme and these actresses to deepen audience sympathy for the unhappily married Lady Brute, even as she fires off her witty ripostes. In the intimate conversational dialogue between Lady Brute and her niece Bellinda (Bracegirdle), and especially in the star part of Sir John Brute the brutish husband (Betterton). The premise of the plot, that a wife trapped in an abusive marriage might consider either leaving it or taking a lover, outraged some sections of Restoration society. Lady Brutt is tired of her tedious, loveless marriage, and her tedious drunk husband. When she decides to spice up her live life with a younger man scandal threatens to ruin her.