Canterbury: Controversial Aphra Behn play returns after 353 years

A play which has not been performed for more than 350 years after it was considered “too controversial” will be brought back to life in Kent.

The Canterbury Players are performing The Amorous Prince or The Curious Husband, by Aphra Behn, from 2-4 July at Canterbury Christ Church University.

The play has not been shown since 1671, when many people felt the topics it poked fun at should not be joked about on stage.

“It’s an exciting challenge because there’s nothing really to go from,” said director Natalie Cox.

“We can imprint our own interpretation on this” she said.

Behn, who was born in Canterbury, was the first woman to earn a wage as a professional writer, the university said.

She was also a spy for the English Crown, a playwright, a poet and a translator.

Ms Cox said The Amorous Prince or The Curious Husband was seen as “too radical, too shocking” for its time.

“Some of the things it made fun of, such as masculinity, was not au fait with what should have been on stage at that point. It just fell into obscurity,” she said.

The play, which was shown only once, follows the story of two men: Frederik, who believes he can have sex with any woman he wants, and Antonio, who asks a friend to test the fidelity of his wife.

It is part of a wider project by the university exploring Behn’s life and works.

Art space The Beaney is also showing items on loan from a number of collections until 18 August, which document espionage, radical feminism and politics during the 1600s.

Tickets for all three nights of the play have already been sold.

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