The Clandestine Marriage, co-authored by David Garrick and George Colman, was one of the great comedies of the 18th century. It opened on February 20, 1766 and was the major event of the 1765–66 Drury Lane season. Written in the style of a Restoration comedy of manners, laughter was the primary goal, and the authors succeeded marvelously. The piece was an instant success, playing thirteen consecutive nights before capacity crowds. Garrick had just returned from two years abroad and audiences were anxious to see him on stage again, though he disappointed Colman by refusing to play Lord Ogleby. Insecure after a long absence, Garrick was not looking for new roles.
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