The Chimera; or: Effusions of Fancy: A Farce in Two Acts (1795)
Production & Reception History
Production History: Marriott’s comedy was first produced 17 Nov. 1974 by the Old American Company in Philadelphia (Southwark Theater); in History of the American Theatre, Seilhamer lists a production of the play in New York (22 May 1975).
Print & Publication History
Printed by T. and J. Swords, No. 167 William-Street, New York, 1795
Genre & Structure
- Farce in two acts
- Prefatory material
- Prologue: praise of George Washington and the patriotic, courageous, and virtuous ‘sons of America;’ Marriott asks for benevolent reception of her play (“To you [the kindhearted Americans] the Auth’ress flies, and asks by me [the speaker of the Prorogue], / The beamy smiles of heavenly clemency.”)
Characters: resourceful, determined, and free-willed young woman; cunning female characters; scheming; vain elderly woman; cowardly elderly man; clever young captain. Marriage; proper conduct of spinsters; gender and age; love and age; female education; fear of female intelligence; the ‘mad woman’
Key Words & Themes
Love and age; arranged marriage versus love marriage; beauty versus intelligence; financial security of old age versus youthful spirit; cunningness; scheming; education; dangers of learned women; the ‘mad woman’
According to Amelia Howe Kritzer, Mrs. Marriott was an actor with the Old American Company, and apparently spent only a short time in the United States. (18)
Schofield describes The Chimera as “paradigmatic of the postrevolutionary feminine theater experience” (32).
Early American Imprints
Kritzer, Amelia Howe. “Comedies by Early American Women.” The Cambridge Companion to American Women Playwrights. Ed. Brenda Murphy. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1999. 3-18. Print.
Schofield, Mary Anne. “The Happy Revolution: Colonial Women and the Eighteenth-Century Theater.” Modern American Drama: The Female Canon. Ed. June Schlueter. Rutherford, Madison: Fairleigh Dickinson UP, 1990. 29-37. Print.
Seilhamer, George O. History of the American Theatre: New Foundations. 1891. New York: Askell House Publishers, 1969. 106-7, 110. Print.
Highfill, Philip H., Kalman A. Burnim, and Edward A. Langhans. A Biographical Dictionary of Actors, Actresses, Musicians, Dancers, Managers, and Other Stage Personnel in London, 1660-1800: M’Intosh to Nash. Carbondale: Southern Illinois UP, 1984. 99-100. Print.