A BUSY DAY
BY FANNY BURNEY
An heiress returns from India, her fiance following. She is about to tell her nouveau riche family the good news but the family of her fiance has other ideas. Mayhem and mistaken identities cause a hugely busy day of comedy and romance in the gaming houses, parks and salons of Regency London.
Fanny Burney wrote A Busy Day while in exile during the Napoleonic Wars but never saw it performed in London. The first production was by Show of Strength in the mid-1990s, but this was its first large house run. I was cast as Lord John Dervis, a lord a lounging who found everything terribly dull (a "deuced bore," in fact). I had a fabulous outfit, topped off with a terrific walking stick for bashing servants and other various dullards. I would slouch around the stage and collapse in boredom on various items of furniture. Marvellous!
The production started off in Bristol at the Theatre Royal at the Old Vic there, and played to very good houses in the spring of 2000. It transferred into the West End to the Lyric Theatre and opened on 19th June 2000. Reviews were generally pretty good (apart from The Guardian) including a super mention in the New York Times, and we had excellent audience response throughout the Summer. The show closed on 2nd September 2000, having notched up just over 100 performances between both the runs.
I had a terrific time doing the show. It was great for me to work with such an amazing group of actors and a fine director and crew and I learned tons from all of them. The cast were all brilliant, especially the wonderful Sara Crowe, and they made me feel that what I was doing was good and worthwhile. This was so important as I missed Edinburgh for the first time in five years, but the chance to do a big show, and work with 13 brilliant actors was too much to pass up on.
There are lots of Fanny Burney sites out there on the web especially here and here. You can read The Observer's review of the show here. . The New York Times review has been taken down but there is another internet mention here.