The Beaux' Strategem, first produced in 1707, is a Restoration comedy
by the English playwright George Farquhar
. Although the play is his best known work, Farquhar died while it was still in rehearsals at Drury Lane
and never saw it formally performed.
The play's protagonists, Tom Aimwell and Jack Archer, are typical Restoration characters. Though they begin as rakes ("two gentlemen of broken fortunes"), they ultimately reform, taking their proper places in the social world as upstanding young gentlemen. The plot concerns their scheme to marry their way back into wealth, and, while the audience would have expected a happy resolution for both men, with romantic love ultimately conquering their greed, events do not proceed exactly as you might expect them to (while neither being quite unconventional - only one of the pair marries, but the other saves him from penury).
Central to the play are the legal obstacles to divorce
for reasons of incompatibility, an emphasis that problematizes the conventions of Restoration theatre, where marital relations are usually a shade more idyllic
As much drama of the day, it tends toward the topical and references to the War of the Spanish Succession proliferate and a working knowledge of the play's historical contexts is useful.