An adaptation of John Fletcher and Philip Massinger’s bawdy 17th century comedy set in 1890s Johannesburg.
Missionary Paul Du Boys is engaged to local girl, Tendai. However, an ancient custom dictates that the Chief of her village is permitted to sleep with the bride on her wedding night. In order to escape his clutches, they elope and settle in a village hundreds of miles from her home. During a violent raid on their new quarters they lose sight of one another and Tendai falls into the hands of Scottish agent Dr Jameson who brings her to a house of ill repute, run by the promiscuous Daisy. Meanwhile, Jameson’s brother Roger, a gentleman of leisure and a previous lover of Daisy’s, finds himself on the receiving end of some psychotic jealousy from young Willem, another lover of Daisy’s, who Roger shoots in self-defence. Running for cover, he finds safety in the arms of Willem’s unsuspecting mother, Henrietta, the owner of a huge gold mine, which Jameson has been needling her to sell. When Paul comes looking for his beloved wife, Daisy instantly falls in love with him setting the stage for a romantic battle of wills.
The Custom of the Country premiered at the Barbican Pit in London in 1983.