fauxklore (fauxklore) wrote,


The final show I saw at the fringe festival was the Victorian Light Opera Company's production of W. S. Gilbert's Engaged. This was the most successful of Gilbert's non-musical plays in its time, but it's not very well known these days. Which is a pity as the show was really quite engaging.

The plot involves a young man, Cheviot Hill, who has this unfortunate tendency to propose marriage to every woman he meets, each of whom he describes in flowery language as "the tree upon which the fruit of my heart is growing." He is rich (but stingy) and there is additional money that goes to his friend, Belvawney, so long as he is unmarried but which will transfer to his uncle, Mr. Symperson, if he marries or dies. Belvawney, due to his strange eyes, has an odd influence over Cheviot Hill and has managed to keep him from getting married - so far. Symperson, of course, wants the young man to marry - and has a daughter, Minnie.

The first act takes place on the border of England and Scotland, where Angus MacAlister makes an honest living from a bit of poaching and causing rail accidents which lead the victims to stay at the cottage of his fiancee, Maggie MacFarlane and her mother. Among the victims of the latest rail accident are Cheviot Hill, Mr. Symperson, Belvawney, and Belinda Treherne, who loves Belvawney but won't marry him so long as his income seems so unstable. She is also supposed to be marrying Major McGillicuddy and Belvawney is trying to use a peculiarity of Scottish law to marry her as protection against him. Unfortunately, it's Cheviot who protects her by declaring that she is his wife and she agrees. That legal peculiarity? A mutual declaration in front of witnesses is enough to constitute a Scotch marriage. As if that isn't complicated enough, Cheviot has already fallen for Maggie (and paid off Angus, accordingly).

The rest of the play takes place three months later in London on MInnie and Cheviot's wedding day. Minnie's friend - who turns out to be Belinda - shows up and declares her sorrow at having entered into a Scotch marriage, but not knowing who her husband is. To make things worse, the Scots characters show up, having been engaged as servants. Belvawney explains that the biggest complication is that the cottage was on the border of England and Scotland, so Cheviot and Belinda might or might not be married. So he might be married or might be engaged to two women. Belvawney and Mr. Symperson try to manipulate things to their financial advantage, of course.

This being Gilbert you know that everybody will end up married in the end - though you're never sure to whom. Fortunately, it doesn't much matter.

I'll note that the VLOC did trim the script to make the show run 90 minutes (versus the 2 hours and 15 of the unabridged version), but there weren't any noticeable gaps. All in all, this was a very enjoyable production.

As for the performances, David Dubov was a stand-out as Cheviot Hill. He was so earnest and flowery that it didn't even matter when he flubbed his lines a few times.
Tags: fringe festival, theatre

  • July Prompts

    Lots more to catch up on, but here are my answers to the July prompts. 1. Have there been any periods in your life that could be described as…

  • June Prompts

    1. Do you have a dry erase board? I think I have one somewhere, but I doubt I could find it easily. 2. What feature do you get complimented on…

  • May prompts

    I’m finally getting around to the May prompts. 1. Has a random person ever asked you for your phone number? Not that I can think of. And, frankly,…

  • Post a new comment


    Anonymous comments are disabled in this journal

    default userpic

    Your reply will be screened

    Your IP address will be recorded