The Woman Hater
If Beaumont is mentioned at all it is usually in conjunction with his more famous collaborator (“Bo’mon’n’Fletcha”!) and that is probably a result of the fact that “Fletcha” also collaborated with someone called Shakespeare. However, Beaumont wrote plays on his own and one at least, The Knight of the Burning Pestle, has a strong reputation following several successful productions in recent decades.
The Woman Hater, his first play, has been overlooked since 1606 when it was performed by “Paul’s Boys”, one of the foremost boys’ companies of the period. This is a real shame since this City/Comedy/of Humours/Farce has enormous theatrical and popular potential. And like many of the boys’ plays, it is filthy, racist and deeply offensive in general. It is also extremely contentious, featuring an outrageous parody of the discovery by spies of a plot to assassinate the Leader of State. Only a few months earlier London had been shaken by the exposure of the Gunpowder Plot! There are also satiric references to the work of Shakespeare throughout.
Beaumont had no respect.
This production by Edward’s Boys is set in 1950s Italy and features live music, appalling misogyny and a fish head.
Edward’s Boys, an all-boy theatre company comprising students from King Edward VI School, Stratford-upon-Avon (“Shakespeare’s School”), have received academic attention and popular success as a result of their work exploring the repertoire of the boys’ companies from the early modern period. In the words of Dr Emma Smith (University of Oxford), the Edward’s Boys’ project, ‘is the most sustained attempt to re-imagine what we think boy companies could do - and it will really re-write the academic theatre history books.’
There is an archive of all their performances available on DVD, and their website address is www.edwardsboys.org