A Great and Noble Enterprise

Director’s Notes:

This is a text for a director with access to a large cast such as a school or community theatre group.
The parts range from minor to substantial for both male and female actors.

Staging: Originally written for promenade performance but would work on a thrust or traverse stage. The action moves between the Fairfax’s family seat, the Diggers’ camp and the soldiers’ camp, where the comic elements take place.

Sound: Mainly musical with added crowd-scene effects.

Setting: The play is set over the course of Christmas Eve night, 1660. The action moves between a room in the house of Sir Thomas and Lady Anne Fairfax, Denton, Yorkshire and in flashback to the Parliamentary army’s HQ.

Background:

The Civil War has become a memory but its scars are still deep. Disillusionment at the failed republican experiment is as keenly felt as royalist suspicion at any hint of its return. This play’s two central characters personify that divide. Their struggle towards forgiveness and mutual understanding is one that England must go through.

Plot:

Rather than enjoy the rewards for his role in the restoration of Charles II, Thomas Fairfax, former commander of Parliament’s army, has returned to his estates at Denton where he lives as a virtual recluse. At the annual alms-giving, his estranged wife, Anne, is confronted by a young Puritan, Bridget Saltmarsh. The daughter of an army chaplain, the young woman appears to have come directly out of England’s violent past, arriving unannounced with the Bible she had promised her dying father she would deliver to Thomas Fairfax personally.