Bex Law talks to us about directing the first known Restoration comedy to be written by a woman.
Without any spoilers, what’s the play about?
She Ventures is a warm-hearted, fun and in some ways very honest play about love and human nature. It’s about love in its many forms, and the trials and tribulations we go through in pursuit of happiness. There are matchmaking plots, cross-dressing larks, traps and testings, missed messages and plans that go spectacularly awry, and not forgetting a couple of songs!
What drew you to directing it?
The characters are brilliantly written – they are complex, conflicted and surprising. They are also witty and tenacious, and get themselves into all kinds of scrapes in their pursuit of love. It’s also really really funny! We’ve had a great time rehearsing, and can’t wait to share the world of Freeman’s Tavern and St James’ Park in 1696 with everyone.
Tell us about your very large cast…
Working with 14 brilliant actors has been such a joy. They’ve all created very distinct and real characters, and have found the wit and humour in Ariadne’s language and plot. There are also some real moments of emotion within all the tomfoolery, and I’m so proud of them for committing to those moments as well as the more comedic ones.
What can you tell us about Ariadne and the history of this play?
She Ventures was first performed in 1694-1695 at the New Theatre, London, and despite closing after two performances was published in 1696. Little is known about ‘Ariadne’, although we know that she writes with humour and wit, and was one of the first female playwrights.
The published version of the play notes that She Ventures is an adaptation of a little-known novel The Fair Extravagant by Alexander Oldys. The play has some of the same plot points and characters found in The Fair Extravagant, and Ariadne added inventions and changed certain details, as well as borrowing the name of Oldys’ main character as her nom de plume.
She Ventures and He Wins runs from 22 – 26 January at the Old Fire Station, and tickets are on sale here.
Photographs by Megan Jordan