RUCKUS THEATRE PRESENTS:
The Duchess of Buckingham Regrets to Inform You That Her Husband is Dead
“We’re talking about someone else’s murder, Phoebe, tone it down.”
August 1815. A healthy Duke drops dead. Leaving Selina, his widow, miserable – but not for the reason you might think.
When her family gathers for the funeral, the late Duke’s will reveals the truth. To keep the roof over her head, she must remarry. In seven days. A seemingly impossible task, but a chance encounter with a stranger named Harry (who may or may not have been planning to rob her) and a misunderstanding about his parentage, seems to solve all of her problems.
But someone’s watching her. Someone who is determined to snatch the title from Selina’s hands and place himself on his rightful throne. No matter what he has to do to get there…
Throw in Selina’s gambling brother and his charmed wife, her judgemental sister and the priest she’s shacking up with, a thief who is always looking for an escape route, and the all-seeing eye of the household, determined to discover the truth. Selina’s walk to the altar won’t be an easy one.
Put Jane Austen to bed and tell William Thackery to cover his eyes. This is not your typical period piece.
‘The Duchess of Buckingham Regrets to Inform You Her Husband is Dead’ has been developed by and for Ruckus Theatre Company, an intersectional company based in London, platforming disenfranchised groups through theatre, and marks the theatrical debut of award-winning screenwriter Niamh Dunne.
A note from the writer...
“It sounds ridiculous, but this whole thing started as a dare. It was September 2021 and I’d been kicking around an idea with a fantastic title – but didn’t know what form it would take. Enter, Bethany, who said I should turn it into a play. Two years later, here we are. I hope that “The Duchess of Buckingham” for short or “TDOB” for shorter, will prove there’s a real place for original period dramas in the creative world that break through the standard tropes of the genre and present exciting new stories about a larger, more diverse range of characters. My greatest thanks have to go to Ruckus Theatre, without whom this play likely wouldn’t exist. Their support through dozens of rewrites, thoughtful notes and tireless effort has made this play what it is and I owe them so much for helping make it a reality. Finally, I want to extend an enormous thank you to everyone who has helped to bring the characters that have only existed in my head onto the stage - the cast, crew, Ruckus Theatre, family and friends. I hope you enjoy the show.” - Niamh Dunne
A note from the director...
“Staring at a portrait of the Duke and Duchess, one would imagine a life of luxury, grandeur, status and ease. These carefully constructed images have gripped our historical imagination and, as such, have set our expectations for what a show of the regency period should be. But their lives were not so neatly and gracefully designed. A world of crazy rumours, scandals and the ridiculous within the world of the aristocracy is represented in regency satirists like George and Issac Cruikshank or William Rowlandson. Like these satirists, The Duchess of Buckingham does not abide by rules of how the aristocracy wanted to portray their superiority. It satirises the gendered ideologies around womanhood, marriage, status, property and freedom. It is beautifully refreshing and, as a director, it is my duty to draw this sentiment to the forefront.
I centralise the imagery of the regency period, both the portraits and the satires. I start with the images of portraiture and use the influence of satire, with their disparaging and comedic style to break through the construction of grandeur and luxury associated with the aristocracy and deconstruct the traditionalism surrounding their ideologies and the pervasion of these ideologies in the audience’s perception of their lives. I incorporate bold imagery, combinations of stylised and naturalistic performance and comic juxtaposition to subvert the superficial images of the regency period, challenge stereotypes and reassert female agency within the historical context.
Moreover, the beauty of the comedy and the iconic characters in The Duchess of Buckingham allow us to use comedy to subvert and break through the frames of expectation captured within classical portraiture and satire, using it as starting point to emphasise the wildness, debauchery, ingenuity and prowess of each class bracket portrayed in the play. I aim to challenge and reassert contemporary perceptions of class, identity and particularly feminine power.” - Montaz Marché