Shows T

singing of their future married life as host and hostess of a little roadside inn. As it happens, the misunderstanding comes to the lovers' aid, for Sophia has dropped her muff in the kissing coppice and it has been found by the beastly Blifil. Honour blithely claims it as her own, a gift from her mistress, and Miss Western backs up the story with her circumstantial evidence. Since Squire Western thinks everyone's daughters (his own, of course, excepted) are fair game for a lusty lad, this means there is no harm done. Not yet, indeed, but the business of the day has still to be completed. After a jolly madrigal the Squire orders Sophia and Blifil to be left alone together so that Blifil may put his marriage proposal to her. To young Allworthy's horror, what should be a formality turns to an embarrassment when Sophia refuses the offer indignantly. Western angrily tells his daughter that a decision such as this is his privilege; she shall have no say in the matter of whom she shall marry, and Tom finds his lady love in tears as they open the finale with a protestation of undying love. When Blifil breaks in on them, Tom knocks him down and, as everyone gathers round, Tom and Sophia plead for their love. Father and guardian, outraged, will hear none of such a match and cast the young people off as the finale ends in a sad farewell. ACT 2 Toni has run off, broken-hearted, to take the king's shilling as a soldier and Sophia, following behind with Honour, has fled from her home in search of ',while Squire Western and all his entourage have, in their turn, set off on the road in search of Sophia. So, this particular week, the roads between Somerset and London are fairly full of Somerset folk who, driven by the need to condense a lot of Fielding's novel into one act, all end up on the same evening in the same inn at Upton. As soon as the opening chorus is out of the way we find that Squire Western is already installed at the inn, laid up in his room with a fiery fit of gout. The hostess proposes a doctor for what ails him, for such a gentleman just happens to be on hand, one Benjamin Partridge who describes himself in comic song as 'A Person of Parts'. Partridge is a Somerset man himself and knows Western and Tom from twenty years back, but he is less than adept as a doctor and succeeds in rousing Western to howling pitch by dropping his leeches everywhere and treading on the Squire's gouty toe. Today is a busy day for the itinerant doctor. He soon has a second (and perhaps more suitable) call to tend to a lady's horse and the lady is none other than Sophia whose equine accident has obliged her to stop at Upton. Honour catches the Somerset references in the doctor's conversation and she is wary, but Sophia thinks of nothing but her anxiety to be on her way. She is heading for London and the house of her relative, Lady Bellaston, where she may, hopefully, escape the hated Blifil for, rather than wed him, she would marry the first man who came along like 'Dream o' Day Jill'. Gregory, who has, come on the journey as part of the Squire's train, fills in his time with a song before the stage is filled with consternation: a coach has been attacked by highwaymen and Lady Bellaston, who was a passenger, has been saved from the scoundrels by a dashing young man who succeeded in putting the highwaymen to flight. Sure enough, it, is Tom Jones who enters bearing the delightedly fainting Lady in his arms. My Lady Bellaston has but one thought in mind and that is to bed the handsome youth as quickly and efficiently as possible, but thoughts of Sophia linger faithfully in Tom's heart and only the course of events contrives that he ends up innocently in an inn room alone with Lady Bellaston. All these people, under the same roof, manage not to bump into each other, but Partridge meets them all in turn and he gradually if inefficiently starts to put the situation together in his mind as the main protagonists of the action are stage-managed in and out of rooms and doors. Honour sees that the barber needs to be kept quiet if her mistress is to get safely away but she is quietly confident that, in a pinch, she can deal with any man who looks at her in the way this one does. Honour goes nimbly to work. With a little forceful explanation, she gets it through Gregory's thick head that a quick and sure escape is needed for Sophia, and she promises him her hand and heart as a reward for his help. Tom, who has bolstered himself against the charms of Lady Bellaston with a glass or two of wine, is still determined to forget his sorrow as a soldier, but the wine catches him unawares and he exchanges some loosely amorous words with a cloaked lady before being summoned back to the side of Lady Bellaston: Alas, the dark lady is Sophia and she is broken-hearted as she believes the rampant Tom is lost to her forever.