The Road to Ruin
From: Wednesday, 4th September 2002
To: Saturday, 12 October 2002
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Now fallen into general obscurity, Thomas Holcroft's eighteenth century romp was once highly popular, acclaimed by none other than William Hazlitt as "a universal favourite". among theatres of the day. Reflecting Holcroft's fraught (and ultimately tragic ) relationship with his own son, The Road To Ruin opens with the familiar sight of a prodigal son bringing disgrace on his upstanding father through profligacy run rampant. The forerunner of today's plastic society that implicitly encourages endless borrowing on credit, the world here depicted is similarly besieged by temptation with endless possibilities for speculation and gambling on everything from bear-baiting, to horseracing. Possessing a good heart if a weak judgement, young Harry Dornton resolves to rescue his father's reputation through drastic means- by marrying a frivolous, unscrupulous widow and thereby sacrificing his love for the widow's virtuous daughter.
7 September 2002
The London publisher Rupert Hart-Davis once wrote that if any play has only been produced twice in three hundred years, there must be some good reason for it! Well, in The Road To Ruin, The Orange Tree have discovered a real gem of a long-forgotten drama, despite having only two UK productions since the early 19th. Century
The Road To Ruin was written four years after the storming of the Bastille and in his prologue (dispensed with in this production) , Thomas Holcroft predicted that the French Revolution would "fertilise a world, and renovate old earth'. Inspired by the ideas of his liberal minded friends William Godwin and Thomas Paine, Holcroft was an unashamed militant atheist and sentimentalist. His belief in universal benevolence is shown to good effect in this hilarious satire of the London bourgeoisie, but demonstrates how even businessmen conceal human hearts beneath their dry exteriors.
A tale of wills, bills, vanity and insanity, B...
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