★★★★ ‘a vibrant adaptation… superb comic performances from the cast’
Critics’ Choice, Time Out
‘an engaging revival by Jessica Swale who is becoming our best young director of period comedy… decisively blows the dust off Centlivre’s 18th-century sitcom’
The Guardian
‘this is an ensemble that knows how to inject detail and joy into character acting… it’s just really fun… marvellous original songs, written by Swale, which are funny and frivolous, silly and superb’
The Stage

One of the most popular plays of its day, The Busy Body is a brilliantly witty and fast-paced comedy packed with memorable characters. As the spirited heroine Miranda engages in a battle of wits with her lover, the romantic Isabinda plots to escape her arranged marriage to a wealthy Spaniard. Meanwhile the hapless ‘busy body’ Marplot tries his utmost to help his friends, but his valiant efforts only succeed in leading them closer towards disaster…

The Busy Body was written in 1709 and performed over 450 times before 1800. The character of Marplot was one of the most celebrated comic creations of the Restoration stage and was first performed by David Garrick, who counted it among his favourite roles. After over a century out of the lime light, Susanna Centlivre’s lively comedy receives a long overdue revival directed by Southwark Playhouse Associate Director Jessica Swale.

The Press on The Belle’s Stratagem

★★★★ “Theatrical enterprise like this makes you proud to be British” Libby Purves, The Times

★★★★ “Jessica Swale made a big impact with a stunning production of Sheridan’s The Rivals in Southwark… Now [The Belle’s Stratagem] turns out to be witty, spirited and eminently revivable” Michael Billington, The Guardian

★★★★ “an impressively irreverent and coherent production… cheeky, contemporary flourishes” Critics’ Choice, Time Out

Cast and Creative
Creative Team

Jessica Swale

Harriet Oughton

Set Designer
Simon Kenny

Costume Designer
David Shields

Lighting Designer
Christopher Nairne


Gus Brown
Ruth Clarke-Irons
Cerith Flinn
Alexandra Guelff
Michael Lindall
Jeremy Lloyd
Kate Marlais
Frances Marshall
Henry Shields
Ella Smith
Gay Soper
Matthew Spencer

Pre-Show Events

Pre-Show Discussion: Restoration Theatre and The Busy Body
Tuesday 18 September, 7pm
Jessica Swale (director of The Busy Body) is joined by special guests for a pre-show discussion focusing on theatre in the Restoration period, the themes of The Busy Body and other plays of the time, and critical and public reception to Restoration comedy throughout the ages.

Post-Show Discussion: The Female Wits
Tuesday 25 September, 10.30pm
Jessica Swale is joined by special guests for a pre-show discussion focusing on female plawrights including Susanna Centlivre and Aphra Behn, along with general discussion about The Busy Body and Restoration theatre.