In Good King Charles's Golden Days
|In Good King Charles's Golden Days|
|Written by||George Bernard Shaw|
|Characters||Barbara Villiers, 1st Duchess of Cleveland Queen Catherine of Braganza
King Charles II
Louise de Kérouaille, Duchess of Portsmouth
|Date premiered||12 August 1939|
|Place premiered||Malvern Festival Theatre, UK|
In Good King Charles's Golden Days is a play by George Bernard Shaw, subtitled A True History that Never Happened.
It was written in 1938-39 as an "educational history film" for film director Gabriel Pascal in the aftermath of Pygmalion's cinema triumph. The cast of the proposed film were to be sumptuously clothed in 17th century costumes, far beyond the resources of most theatre managements. However, by the time of its completion in May 1939, it had turned into a Shavian Restoration comedy.
The title of the play is taken from the first line of the traditional song "The Vicar of Bray".
A discussion play, the issues of nature, science, power and leadership are debated between King Charles II ('Mr Rowley'), Isaac Newton, George Fox and the artist Godfrey Kneller, with interventions by three of the king's mistresses (Barbara Villiers, 1st Duchess of Cleveland; Louise de Kérouaille, Duchess of Portsmouth; and Nell Gwynn). The short second Act involves Charles in conversation with his queen, Catherine of Braganza.
- Mrs Basham: Isobel Thornton
- Sally: Betty Marsden
- Isaac Newton: Cecil Trouncer
- George Fox: Herbert Lomas
- Mr Rowley (King Charles II): Ernest Thesiger
- Nell Gwynn: Eileen Beldon
- Barbara Villiers, 1st Duchess of Cleveland; Daphne Heard
- Louise de Kérouaille, Duchess of Portsmouth: Ina de la Haye
- James, Duke of York: William Hutchison
- Godfrey Kneller: Alec Clunes
- Queen Catherine of Braganza: Violet Vanbrugh
Ernest Thesiger, who again played 'Mr Rowley', revived the play at the Malvern Festival on 11 August 1949. It was also revived at the Malvern Festival Theatre in 1983.
The first North American production was on 24 January 1957 at the Downtown Theater on New York's East 4th Street, where it ran for nearly two years, one of the longest runs of any Shaw play in the USA (as noted by Lawrence Langner).
- In Good King Charles's Golden Days by Bernard Shaw, with 12 text illustrations by Feliks Topolski, Constable, London (1939)
- File on Shaw, compiled by Margery Morgan, Methuen, London (1989) ISBN 0-413-15280-4
- Bernard Shaw, a biography by Michael Holroyd in five volumes, Chatto and Windus (1988-1992)
- Shaw's preface to the play, first published in the collected edition of Geneva, Cymbeline Refinished and In Good King Charles's Golden Days, Constable (1947)
- Bernard Shaw: The Complete Prefaces, volume III, 1930-1950, edited by Dan H Laurence and Daniel J Leary, Allen Lane, The Penguin Press (1997) ISBN 0-7139-9058-9