Two young women of "marriageable age".
Two young men, interested in these two young women.
Two parents determined to keep the young men well away from the young women.
Two servants, full of cunning plans.
And one busybody.

“The Busybody” by Susanna Centlivre.

This wonderful play, is very seldom seen these days, probably because people are scared off by the "Restoration Comedy" category. Our adaptation has had a very successful and profitable production by Villanova Players, and proved to be very popular with the audiences.
This adaptation, is now available for presentation by other theatre groups at very reasonable rates.

The Adaptation

Cast: 6 Male, 5 Female

Playing time 2hr 15min including 20min interval (1hr 55min excluding interval)

This play was very popular in its day, and for at least 150 years, but is almost never seen these days. This is a pity. The play is very witty, and it is only the rather convoluted language that creates difficulties, giving the impression of a "heavy" play.

Our adaptation was very well received by audience members of all ages, and is now available by negotiation to other groups.

While conforming more closely to today's sentence structure, the adaptation retains the style of a "restoration/romantic" comedy.

We have reduced the playing time considerably, without changing the order or content of the Scenes. Acts 1 to 3 are played in 1hr 10min, followed by interval, followed by Acts 4 & 5, running 45min.

The Adaptation Process

The play is almost entirely in prose, and therefore we do not consider the sentence structure to be in any way sacred. The short segments of verse (usually at the ends of acts) have been left unchanged.

Changes were carefully reviewed to ensure that they did not detract from the character development, or plot development.

The biggest changes have been in the sentence construction. The original sentences are longer than is normal these days, with many qualifying clauses being used.

Any qualifying clauses that do not advance the plot, do not help define the characters, and are not funny, have simply been removed. In some cases, a qualifying clause has been removed which may have been considered funny in the 18th century, but has lost its humour by being out of current context.

In a few cases, a sentence has been restructured into a more modern form

Simple substitutions such as "you" for "thou" etc. were made, but some words of the period such as "zounds", "sirrah" etc. that are not in use now were retained, where they did not obstruct the meaning

It was considered most important that the first scene be easy for the audience to "connect with". If an audience member loses touch with the language early in the play, there is a strong chance he will not "re-connect", and be alienated right through. For this reason, the early scenes were read at a meeting of members of VP, very early in the adaptation process.

Later in the rehearsal process, several critical scenes were again played at a VP meeting, to gauge their understandability

Sir Jealous Traffic to Lady Jealousie

This fairly controversial change was made for a number of reasons:

Other changes

We have introduces a couple of obvious and deliberate anachronisms. These could be omitted, and/or others added.

In place of the several un-named servants of the original script, we used a single actor, given the name "Everywhere" (this name is never used in any lines, but was printed in the programme). Everywhere was, at different times, servant to different masters. He also started the play with the words "Let the play begin", and re-started after interval.

We have added to the chances for Scentwell to develop a character, mainly by adding a mimed scene. In early productions, Scentwell is not mentioned in playbills, and may have been cut, or considered too unimportant. In our production, the role was often very favourably commented on.

In our production, the servant characters, Patch, Whisper, Everywhere and Scentwell, showed the audience to their seats, sold programmes and gave out orange segments before the show. This created a rapport with the audience, and drew attention to what otherwise might be seen as minor roles.

This adaptation is available by negotiation to other groups
Please e-mail for more information.

The Directors / Adaptors

Maria Plumb has directed many plays at VP over the years, most recently “Arms and The Man” by George Bernard Shaw, and “Travelling North” by David Williamson. She has been a reader and script advisor for Playlab Inc. She has also appeared on-stage as Eliza in “Pygmalion”, Annie Sullivan in “The Miracle Worker”, and more recently, she played the pivotal role of Margaret in David Williamson’s incisive play “Money and Friends”.

Rod Thompson directed “The Harp In The South” by Ruth Park and Leslie Rees, “Dancing at Lughnasa” by Brian Friel, and “Two Weeks With the Queen” by Mary Morris and Morris Gleitzman. He most recently appeared in “Arms and The Man” and “Money and Friends”. Rod was music co-ordinator and strolling concertina busker for Errol O’Neill’s play about the 1912 Brisbane tramway worker’s strike “Faces in the Street”