AT: Virtue in Danger A: John Vanbrugh Pf: 1696, London Pb: 1696 G: Com. in 5 acts; prose and some blank verse S: London and the country, Restoration period C: 16m, 4f, extrasLoveless, a reformed rake, and his wife Amanda have been married for six months. They arrive in London from the country, convinced that they can resist the temptations of the capital. Meanwhile Young Fashion, who is penniless, tries to borrow money off his brother Lord Foppington. When the latter refuses him, Fashion plots to marry the rich heiress destined for his brother. Loveless falls for the charms of his wife's cousin Berinthia, who is encouraged by Mr Worthy, who himself is hoping to seduce Amanda. Fashion seeks out his heiress in the country and gains access to her by pretending to be his rich brother. They marry secretly. Even when Amanda learns that her husband has had a relapse and been unfaithful to her, she resists the advances of Worthy. At a bridal masque organized to celebrate Lord Foppington's wedding, it is revealed that his bride is already married to his brother, a discovery which Foppington accepts with good grace.
AT: Virtue in Danger A: John Vanbrugh Pf: 1696, London Pb: 1696 G: Com. in 5 acts; prose and some blank verse S: London and the country, Restoration period C: 16m, 4f, extras
Written in under six weeks by someone who became better known as an architect, The Relapse was based on Cibber's Love's Last Shift (1676). The earlier play showed Amanda tricking her unfaithful husband back into the marriage bed and bringing about his reformation. Here Loveless is a supposedly reformed character who cannot however resist the charms of Berinthia. Once again the true heroine is Amanda, who by resisting Worthy, and indeed bringing about his reformation, shows herself to be a woman of virtue and sets a precedent for the moral tone of subsequent 18th-century comedy.