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  • Writer's pictureDavid Taylor

Inchbald's Animal Magnetism - watch now!

We're delighted to announce that the recording of the professional, script-in-hand performance of Elizabeth Inchbald's Animal Magnetism is now available to view on YouTube, HERE.

The performance took place in St. Hugh's College, Oxford in September 2022, as part of 'Elizabeth Inchbald: A Bicentennial Conference'. The six actors had just two days to rehearse the play with director Colin Blumenau; on the first day they were joined by a number of researchers, including David Taylor and Misty Anderson, who are leading the 'Re-Activating the Repertoire 1660-1830' project led by David Taylor and funded by an AHRC Network Grant. The event was produced by Creation Theatre.

Those of you who saw our performance of Hannah Cowley's Who's the Dupe? may recognise two of the cast, with both Nicolas Osmond and Foxey Hardman returning to take part in Animal Magnetism.

This recording will remain on YouTube for just one week. Thereafter, it will be available to view upon request by researchers, teachers, and students.


The Doctor - a quack - keeps his beautiful young ward, Constance, under lock and key, and is determined to force her into marrying him. But Constance is determined to get free and the Marquis, who loves her, offers an escape route. When Le Fleur, the Marquis's servant, arrives at house under the guise of an expert in mesmerism, the scene is set for the Doctor to get his comeuppance. Inchbald’s farce is a brilliant riff on the art of performance and a hilarious and all too relevant takedown of men’s insistence that they own and control women’s bodies.

Animal Magnetism is Inchbald’s seventh play. Written to be performed as an afterpiece – a shorter play (usually a farce) that would follow longer comedies and tragedies – it was adapted from Le Médecin Malgré tout le monde by Antoine-Jean-Bourlin Dumaniant. The piece remained popular well into the 19th century. Charles Dickens directed and acted in the play with his amateur company many times between 1848 and 1857.

I have seen people laugh at the piece until they have hung

over the front of the boxes like ripe fruit.”

Dickens on Animal Magnetism in 1850


Elizabeth Inchbald (1753-1821) was born Elizabeth Simpson in Standingfield, near Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, to a Roman Catholic family. In April 1772 she left for London (without permission), set on becoming an actress. Two months later, she married actor Joseph Inchbald. So began several years in which she travelled Britain performing with touring troupes. Her husband died in 1779 but she continued to act, in London and Dublin, through to 1789. Her career as a performer saw her work to overcome a stammer

Inchbald’s first play, a farce called The Mogul Tale, was staged in 1784; she acted in it herself. Thus began a remarkable career as a playwright – she was the most prolific and popular dramatist of the final 15 years of the century. Her plays include Such Things Are (1787), Every One has His Fault (1793), Wives as They Were and Maids as They Are (1797), Lovers’ Vows – which famously appears in Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park – and an unperformed tragedy, The Massacre (1792), a commentary on the violence of the French Revolution.

Inchbald also wrote two novels – A Simple Story (1791) and Nature and Art (1796), and produced The British Theatre (1806-9), a 25-volume collection of plays, each with a critical introduction.


Doctor, a Quack Nicholas Osmond

Constance, his ward Foxey Hardman

Lisette, her maid Aisha Numah

Marquis, in love with Constance Sam Liu

La Fleur, the Marquis’ servant Joe Sefton

Jeffrey, the Doctor’s servant Eliot Giuralarocca

Director Colin Blumenau

Producer Lucy Askew (Creation Theatre)

Assistant Producer Luwa Adebanjo (Creation Theatre)

Script Editors Colin Blumenau & David Taylor

Recording Sophia Carlane and Peter Robinson for Education

Media Services, Oxford

This performance and recording were made possible by funding from the Arts and Humanities Research Council.

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