The Provok'd Wife



  • Sir John Vanbrugh's comedy about the marriage betweena wavering wife and her drunken husband; it was first performed in1697 at London's Drury Lane. Unfortunately, The Provok'd Wifeprovoked England's increasingly respectable middle classes with ascene in which the debauched Sir John Brute disguised himself as aclergyman. In 1706 Vanbrugh rewrote the part so that Sir John dressesas a bonneted lady instead. David Garrick appeared in the role in1744 and made it one of his most famous parts. An admired revivalwas staged by John Wood at the National Theatre in 1980.

    In the play Sir John's long-suffering wife, Lady Brute, ispursued by Mr Constant, while her neice, Belinda, is courted by Constant'sfriend, Heartfree. The two couples retire to Lady Brute's home whileher husband is out revelling. Disaster looms when Sir John returnsunexpectedly to find the two men hidden in the closet; fortunatelyhe accepts their explanation that the gathering was to arrange themarriage of Heartfree and Belinda.