The Relapse was written in 1696 by John Vanbrugh as a sequel to Colley Cibber’s comedy Love’s Last Shift (1696). Amanda, Loveless, and Lord Foppington (known as Sir Novelty Fashion in Love’s Last Shift) are the only characters to feature in both plays.
The Relapse contains two parallel love triangles that cross paths throughout the play. The first centers on Loveless and his wife Amanda, who have been living quietly in the countryside. However, Loveless has a womanizing past and he soon returns to his wicked ways when the couple return to London. He falls for the beauty of Amanda’s cousin, Berinthia, and pursues her relentlessly behind his wife’s back. Meanwhile, Berinthia’s former lover, Worthy, lusts after Amanda and makes it his mission to break down her virtue and chaste devotion to her husband. In the end, he is unsuccessful and Amanda remains steadfastly loyal to Loveless, despite his infidelities.
Across town, Lord Foppington is in pursuit of a wealthy wife. He has engaged the matchmaker, Coupler, to arrange his engagement to the heiress, Miss Hoyden. However, his younger brother, Young Fashion, has recently returned to the country after three years abroad and he needs Lord Foppington to renew his annuity. When Lord Foppington refuses, Young Fashion is encouraged to get his revenge, masquerade as his brother, and, in this disguise, marry Miss Hoyden in secret. When the real Lord Foppington arrives, Young Fashion’s deception is revealed….but it is too late. Young Fashion and Miss Hoyden are married and Lord Foppington is forced to admit defeat.
The Relapse guide sections