‘A lot of the themes in the play are still relevant today’

(Left to right) Ray Murphy, Thomas Wright and Andrew Hodson in Artifice's Lovers' Vows.
(Left to right) Ray Murphy, Thomas Wright and Andrew Hodson in Artifice's Lovers' Vows.
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Artifice, a theatre company specialising in classical plays, perform Elizabeth Inchbald’s Lovers’ Vows at the Groundlings Theatre in Portsmouth next Wednesday and Thursday.

The piece deals with the themes of love, abandonment, betrayal and marriage and features significantly in the plot of Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park, where the group of young people rehearse it as part of their own private theatricals.

The play is being performed by the theatre company to mark the 200th anniversary of Mansfield Park.

Director Kate Napier says: ‘We have been doing it now for six months and we are still finding new parts to the text and the audience is reacting to different bits. It is very rich.’

‘A lot of the themes in the play are still relevant today, so I have directed it to play up and focus on the story.’

The story begins with Agatha being thrown out of an inn when a soldier comes across her and gives her the very little money he has. Agatha recognizes him as her son Frederick, who has come for his birth certificate. Agatha then tells him the truth of his story.

This production offers a unique opportunity to enjoy a play that combines serious topics performed with a light comedic touch.

Gillian Dow, CEO at Chawton House Library which specialises in Austen’s fiction, saw one of the performances. She says: ‘I thought the performance was absolutely marvellous, it was a truly splendid event. I have read Lovers’ Vows many times but I was surprised at both how funny and moving I found it live.’

Rarely performed, this is an opportunity to see Inchbald’s characters come to life, including a butler who can only talk in rhyme.

Lovers’ Vows comes to the Groundlings on Wednesday and Thursday at 8pm. Tickets: £14, visit groundlings.co.uk