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  • Writer's pictureDavid Taylor

Who's the Dupe? - Available to watch for 1 week only!

We're delighted to announce that the recording of the professional, script-in-hand performance of Hannah Cowley's Who's the Dupe? is now available to view on YouTube, here.

The performance took place in St. Hugh's College, Oxford in May 2022, as part of the 'Re-Activating the Repertoire 1660-1830' project led by David Taylor and funded by an AHRC Network Grant. The six actors had just a few hours to rehearse with director Colin Blumenau. A number of researchers were lucky enough to be in the room to take part in this process. The event was produced by Creation Theatre.

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


Elizabeth’s father – a rich, Cockney merchant – is determined to marry her to a man of learning. The man in question is Gradus, a stuffy Oxford academic who knows a lot about obscure Greek and Latin texts and nothing at all about how to woo a woman. But Elizabeth has other ideas. Her preference is for Granger, a poor but dashing captain in the army (who loves Elizabeth… and her fortune). With the aid of her cousin and Granger’s friend, can Elizabeth see to it that Granger not Gradus wins her hand? In this unforgettable farce, the scholar must pass as a man of fashion, and the man of fashion as a scholar.


Hannah Cowley (1743-1809) was born in Tiverton, Devon. Dismayed by the quality of the plays she saw in London, Cowley was determined to do better. Her first play, a comedy called The Runaway, did just that, proving to be a box-office hit at Drury Lane Theatre in 1776. Further success was to follow, and she became one of the most popular and brilliant playwrights of the late eighteenth century, with her plays performed not only in England and Ireland but in Austria and Germany.

In all, Cowley wrote two tragedies – Albina (1779) and The Fate of Sparta (1788) – and another five comedies: The Belle’s Stratagem (1780), often regarded as her masterpiece; Which is the Man? (1783); A Bold Stroke for a Husband (1783); More Ways than One (1784); The School for Greybeards (1786); A Day in Turkey (1791); and The Town Before You (1794). Cowley also wrote two long poems, The Maid of Arragon (1780) and The Scottish Village (1786).

Who’s the Dupe?, a two-act farce, is Cowley’s second play. It is an ‘afterpiece’ – a shorter play that was performed after a five-act play, as was standard on the eighteenth-century stage when theatres offered audiences a nightly programme of entertainments. Dupe premiered at Drury Lane on 10 May 1779, following a tragedy, Edward Moore’s The Gamester. It proved to be a hugely popular play. By the end of century, it had been performed over 130 times, an uncommonly high figure in a period before long run shows when theatres mounted several different plays each week.


Mr Doiley Nicholas Osmond

Elizabeth Foxey Hardman

Gradus Dylan Corbett-Bader

Granger Daniel Bravo

Sandford George Howard

Charlotte Chloe Lemonius

Director Colin Blumenau

Producer Lucy Askew (Creation Theatre)

Assistant Producer Luwa Adebanjo (Creation Theatre)

Script Editors Colin Blumenau & David Taylor

Recording Tim Hands and Martin Higgins

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

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