Is she his wife? – 1837 – a comic Burletta
The full title was Is She His Wife? Or, Something Singular, a one act comic Burletta.
It was first performed at the St James’s Theatre on 6 Mar 1837.
Scene 1 opens with a room opening onto a garden at breakfast time. Mrs Lovetown complains of her husband’s demeanour after just a few months of marriage, she despairs for the future. He explains that he is bored of the countryside. But she points out that it was he who wanted to live in the countryside. They say that if they did not love the other dearly then she might be thought an aggravating woman and he a brute.
Felix Tapkins is heard singing from outside. Mrs Lovetown points out that Tapkins never complains of the countryside. He enters and explains that this is because he is a bachelor. He explains he has been gardening and says he is happy all the time, he does not know what is the use of unhappiness.
Mrs Lovetown asks if Tapkins has finished his improvements. He lists the things left to do and discusses his idyllic countryside life. He invites Lovetown to see his new horse, Lovetown agrees saying he can refuse him nothing. Tapkins says that’s what they all say, implying he meant women.
Tapkins remembers his purpose in visiting was to invite them in the afternoon to come to see him as the Linburys were coming, Mrs Lovetown says she dislikes Mr Linbury, but the men agree that Mrs Linbury is supportable.
They leave. Mrs Lovetown concludes that she will not take her husband’s coldness any longer. She feels she must raise some jealousy in him. Tapkins returns and overhears her complaints, she has not noted his return. When she sees him they are confused by each other’s comments. Tapkins thinks she is showing interest in him. He proposes he knows someone suitable for her and she thinks he means himself, and he does.
Tapkins drops to his knees as Lovetown returns. Tapkins makes out he is seeking something on the floor. The embarrasing moment is ended by Lovetown saying he has letters to write and Tapkins takes Mrs Lovetown out to see the horse Leaving Lovetown pondering whether there is something between them.
He is interrupted by a servant announcing the Limburys are at the door. He surmises that Mrs Limbury will receive any attentions, partly to annoy her jealouse husband. He decides he will therefore pay particular attention to her to make his wife jealous.
Limbury sees this and had always thought he paid her too much attention. Mrs Limbury silences her husband and returns the attention. It is getting heated when a servant arrives to say the bay horse is misbehaving and kicking the chaise. Limbury is sent to deal with it, albeit reluctantly leaving them alone.
Lovetown sees his wife returning, so drops to his knee and takes Mrs Limbury’s hand and declares his love for her. He proposes a liaison at Mr Taplows that evening, She sees the chance to make her husband jealous and agrees.
Mrs Lovetown has heard it all and despairs. Tapkins and Linbury return, and Tapkins tells Limbury of his fears for his wife and Lovetown. They are much confused. The scene ends.
Scene II has two sets, a conservatory and a summer-house.
Mr and Mrs Lovetown declare their feelings aside, neither can see the other. She is disturbed that Linbury has invited her to the conservatory. Linbury had tried to get his wife not to come, he is now proposing to suggest Mrs Lovetown leave.
Linbury and Mrs Lovetown misunderstand each other, and Lovetown. watching unseen, is shocked. There is confusion as to whether the Lovetowns are married, is she his wife?
They all gather in the summer-house, some obvious and some concealed. Each labouring under a misunderstanding, accusations and confusion abounds.
Common sense prevails and the confusion is unravelled.