Dion Boucicault, the Irish genius of London theatre in the age of Dickens, wrote the brilliantly funny London Assurance in 1841. Wit, energy and comic situations abound as Sir Harcourt Courtly pursues a young, rich and beautiful bride, only to be led astray by the gloriously over-the-top Lady Gay Spanker. Not to be missed for an evening of pre-Christmas fun.
London Assurance (originally titled Out of Town) is a six-act comedy by Dion Boucicault; his second play, but his first to be produced. Its first production, from March 4, 1841 at the Theatre Royal, Covent Garden (by Charles Matthews and Madame Vestris’ company), was Boucicault’s first major success. The play is considered an intermediate point between the 18th-century comedies of Richard Brinsley Sheridan and Oliver Goldsmith on the one hand and Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest on the other.
The play is best described in the summary by the National Theatre of their 2010 production:
‘Sir Harcourt Courtly is lured away from the epicentre of fashionable London by the promise of a rich and beautiful bride, Grace, several decades his junior. Arriving at Oak Hall, Gloucestershire, he marvels at this rural Venus until her charms are eclipsed by her hearty cousin, the foxhunting Lady Gay Spanker. Meanwhile his disguised son turns up in flight from his creditors and falls head over heels for Grace. When Lady Spanker discovers the young couple, she needs little prompting from the visiting chancer Dazzle to lead Sir Harcourt astray … Dion Boucicault, the Irish genius of London theatre in the age of Dickens, wrote the brilliantly funny London Assurance in 1841 and thereby created – in Sir Harcourt and Lady Spanker – two of the great comic roles of the English stage.’
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