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19 Feb 2019 The Guardian

The Belle's Strategem

By Hannah Cowley and Tony Cownie. A Royal Lyceum Theatre review.

IMAGINE an inverted version of Cinderella, in which the heroine is not a passive figure of virtue but a young woman calling the shots. The ugly sisters are two wild women, sexually assertive and on her side. In the Prince Charming role is the familiar two-dimensional love object, except he has to be brought into line before he can claim his happy ending. It sounds like a piece of feminist revisionism for the #MeToo moment. In fact, it’s the central strand of Hannah Cowley’s comedy The Belle’s Stratagem from 1780. The play premiered 238 years ago and was one of the hits of Covent Garden repertoire for the next two decades. That Cowley is no longer a household name is a story in itself. Taking her cue from George Farquhar’s 1707 rural comedy The Beaux’ Stratagem, Cowley paints a picture of a self-regarding urban elite in an elaborate matrimonial dance. But, where Farquhar had the men running rings around the women in a catalogue of deceit and double-deceit, Cowley’s deceptions are all governed by the women.


27 Sep 2017 The Guardian

Drinking and thinking: raise a glass to Glasgow's plays, pies and pints

A Play, a Pie and a Pint review feature

IT defies all the rules of theatre marketing. Scarcely past midday on a Monday lunchtime, a full 45 minutes before curtain up, the queue for the box office is already snaking on to the road. Inside Òran Mór, a spacious pub-cum-performance venue in Glasgow’s West End, the line of ticket holders is even longer. They are here for A Play, a Pie and a Pint, a lunchtime series launched by David MacLennan in 2004 and not so much a success as a phenomenon. Nobody could have predicted its popularity back then, but today is typical. They line up like this six days a week for 40 plays a year (plus summer and winter pantomimes), almost all of them new with just a handful of classical adaptations. The tally to date is in excess of 400, making A Play, a Pie and a Pint a bedrock of the Scottish theatre industry.









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