The Beaux Stratagem Show
The play is a comedy, which like any other comedies has a similar ending where young couples marry. However, it shows a dark side where Mrs. Sullen is left in the unfulfilling marriage, which she cannot get out from since divorce is not a consideration. Yet, due to the good use of characters in developing the relationships in the story, the play has remained to be very hilarious. The basic story is the two young men who set out to woo rich women disguised as master and servant, exchanging the roles at different places. Normally, all comedies end up the same, but what makes them distinct is how the intended goal is achieved. In The Beaux Stratagem, characters are introduced separately and developed in separate scenes and meet at the climax of the play, which is the last scene where we clearly learn roles of each character in the story.
Relationships of the Story as Developed by Characters
When the play opens, we see the two young men, Aimwell and Archer, in an inn, where they get some accommodation and have drinks. The two names if thought about, one could mean an arrow while the other means a bow. This could help in relating the two characters to the story, where they need to complement each other to succeed in their mission. It means that they have an aim and a target, where their aim is to get a fortune and rich women. In this case, Dorinda is the target. Considering that Cupid was the most famous archer, it could tend to develop the theme of love, which is expected in such a story. In the inn, we are introduced to Boniface, the innkeeper, and her daughter, Cherry, who provided the two men with information about the rich heiress, Dorinda, when Boniface, suspected them to be thieves and offered to include them in scheme to steal from her, revealing his other side as opposed to the innkeeper. His daughter, Cherry, whose name could mean that she is like the red cherries, available to be picked to develop the theme of women being desperate and readily available since men were at war.
Other characters in the play like such s Mrs. Sullen represent the historic conditions of marriage at the time where a woman was not allowed to divorce, and if it ever happened, she would live everything with her husband. She was trapped in this kind of marriage, where she could not consider divorce, but she is comic when with Archer, and for lack of attention from her husband, she is desperate and easily falls in love. The theme of love is brought out again when Dorinda gets interested in Aimwell, and they fall in love with each other. Lady Bountiful, Dorinda’s mother, believes herself to be a healer, which again relates to the time of the play when healers were still highly regarded.
At the last scene, during the night, the highwaymen plan to rob Lady Bountifu’s house, still, in the same night, Freeman arrives, to rescue her sister. Archer is hiding in the closet of Mrs. Sullen, and comes out when she is fantasizing about him. He fulfills her fantasies as he had overheard them while he was hidden in the closet. Aimwell and Archer rescue the women and they conquer the bandits. All the previous scenes come together in the last one where all characters come into full play as the play reaches climax. It is revealed that all the previous scenes had a relation to this one, where the highwaymen were targeting to steal from Bountiful’s house, the same as Aimwell and Archer though in a different way that makes them fall in love. Cherry runs to warn that the highwaymen are coming to steal, while Sullen is being lured to drink more so as not be in a position to stop the robbery. At last, the highwaymen are caught and Aimwell marries Dorinda, but confesses his real identity.
The use of visual designs in the play
A play, considering it is different from films, where the camera does a lot in showing visual designs to the audience by use of different angle shots and focus where the camera just shows what is intended. In a play, it is harder because people are viewing the characters from a live stage, and visual designs such as bringing focus to one character while an audience can choose to look at another one remains hard, yet, using techniques of visual designs it is easily achieved.
The play is set in 18th century England and to show this, the directors have used different visual effects such as furniture and costumes. The men’s costumes are mostly dull colors while the women are dressed in bright colored costumes. The house is designed differently with low staircases. The houses are also designed differently to show the different classes. The drinks are not stored in bottles but in wooden like structures. Luggage is also transported using wooden boxes, as was the custom in those days. The women’s costumes are designed to show the different class societies. Upper class women are presented as flamboyant and their style of walking is different. The dresses are long and they have corsets, a feature that was common in 18th century dressing. The men are dressed in long coats and they have tucked their trousers in their boots. They also use swords at different scenes of the play. The director has used the different techniques to show the intended message and to achieve the main idea of setting and geographic location of the play. Another objective has been to set the interior and exterior using lighting. Lighting is enhanced to depict the different times of the day and to set focus on the characters. There is more light on the outside than the inside and this also serves to direct the audience where they should place their focus. Scenery and costumes too could come into play here where different clothes are won for evening, as in the play, where Mrs. Sullen is in her bedroom at night.
The three visuals could also indicate the status of a person in the society, or occupation where people related in a way such as occupation may dress in a uniform manner. In the play, at the inn, one notices the military chaplain from their uniforms, which makes the play real. The scenario too shows the status or defines a place and this is well used where the two houses are of different style, one looking more elegant, and the inn looks different from the other setting. The scenery shows the kind of an environment the play is set. Realism is another objective achieved through scenery lighting and costumes. Realism, which refers to the degree of how real the play looks, can be told by the kind of scenery that it is set. In this play, we expect it to be real since it is set in ordinary lives of people, in their houses, and are dressed as ordinary people in their daily activities and the color of the background plays an important part too. The visuals provide the production with visibility, as it has been used in the play where bright colors are used, and focus is achieved through shedding more light on the character intended, or object targeted. The visuals used in the play compare well with those that were used in the setting of the play, including costumes, the ascent of English and use of set props together with hand props like the rival that was drawn, which matched the time the play was set.
The Beaux Stratagem is a play that comments on the English attitude towards wealth, where this is the main goal of Aimwell and Archer, about bad marriage and the English harsh rules at the time, where Mrs. Sullen is trapped in a bad marriage and divorce was not allowed. The play is comic, due to the ways used in achieving these goals and characters are well developed, while the visual techniques are used well to relay the real meaning of the play, which could be said to be the two themes of money, marriage and romance. This is a depiction of the kind of daily lives during the 18th century narrated humorously, to qualify as a comedy.