The Way of the World
by William Congreve

BBC Third Programme

Broadcast: Tuesday 28th June 1960

Lady Wishfort has a daughter, Mrs. Fainall, a niece, Millamant, and a nephew, Sir Wilfull Witwoud. Millamant has two admirers, Witwoud and Petulant. Millamant's money is held in trust by her aunt, and if she marries without Lady Wishfort's consent half of it passes to Mrs Fainall. Mirabell has previously had an affair with Mrs Fainall but is now in love with Millamant. When Mrs Fainall was thought to be pregnant, Mirabell arranged for her to marry his penniless friend Fainall. Mirabell has angered Mrs Marwood by rejecting her advances and Lady Wishfort by flirting with her to gain entry to her house where Millamant and her maid Mincing also live. Mirabell plans to get both Millamant and her fortune by dressing his servant Waitwell as his uncle Sir Rowland and have him seduce Lady Wishfort - she will agree to marry him to disinherit Mirabell, and be publicly embarrassed when he is revealed to be only a servant. Mirabell will then be able to step in to release her from the contract, on condition that he may have Millamant and all her fortune. He has married Waitwell to Lady Wishfort's servant Foible as security that morning. When they discover his plan, Fainall and Mrs Marwood try to turn the tables by revealing Mrs Fainall's affair with Mirabell, on condition that Lady Wishfort turn over all her estate to Fainall.

"The Way of the World" by William Congreve, one of the best Restoration comedies, was first performed in March 1700 by Thomas Betterton's company at Lincoln's-Inn-Fields Theatre, London.

With John Gielgud [Mirabell (in love with Millamant)], Edith Evans [Millamant (a fine lady, niece to Lady Wishfort, and loves Mirabell], Margaret Rutherford [Lady Wishfort (enemy to Mirabell, for having falsely pretended love to her)], Anthony Nicholls [Fainall (in love with Mrs. Marwood)], Robert Eddison [Squire Witwoud (follower of Millamant)], June Tobin [Mistress Fainall (daughter to Lady Wishfort, and wife to Fainall, formerly friend to Mirabell)], Lydia Sherwood [Mistress Marwood (friend to Mr. Fainall, and likes Mirabell)], Jessie Evans [Foible (servant to Lady Wishfort)], Denys Blakelock [Petulant (follower of Millamant)], Freda Dowie [Peg (servant to Lady Wishfort)], Alexander Gauge [Sir Wilfull Witwoud (half brother to Witwoud, and nephew to Lady Wishfort)], Keith Williams [Waitwell (servant to Mirabell)], Gabriel Woolf [Messenger, Second Footman], Hugh Dickson [First Footman], John Rollason [First Servant], and Jane Jordan Rogers [Mincing].

Music by John Eccles, adapted and arranged by Lionel Salter.

Music played by ad hoc instrumental ensemble (assembled by the Goldsbrough Orchestra), with Lionel Salter (Harpsichord).

Produced by Charles Lefeaux.

Note: A modernised version of Congreve's Restoration satire, "The Way of the World", starring Sheila Hancock and Indira Varma, was broadcast on Sunday 27th April 2003 on BBC Radio 3.

120 min.



Back to top


Radio Plays
Wine Making
Cosby Methodist Church
Gokart Racing
Links to other sites
Sitemap xml
Contact Us