Quality Street by JM Barrie,
1805; sisters Phoebe and Susan Throssel live in a little house on Quality Street, the main thoroughfare of a provincial English village, where a vigorous sergeant is drumming up recruits for the Napoleonic Wars.
The 22 year old Phoebe has become acquainted with a doctor, Valentine Brown, and she seems set to be saved from the ignominy that comes with having to don an 'Old Maid's Cap'. Indeed, the be-capped gossips are certain Phoebe will receive a proposal - and they don't even know that Pheobe has let Valentine kiss her! But then, as the snow falls, the good doctor breaks some unexpected news: he has enlisted, and is off to the wars.
Ten years pass and the sisters fall on hard times, struggling to run a school for 'genteel' children and to make ends meet. Now in her 30s and resigned to spinsterhood, Phoebe, resentfully, wears her cap.
Returning a dashing , decorated hero, Captain Brown revisits the little house on Quality Street - but, horribly, he no longer recognises the woman with whom he once walked out. Can the school mistress recreate the Pheobe of her youth, with ringlets and gaiety, and capture the heart of the seemingly blind soldier? or will he finally see, and love her for who she really is?
Premiered in 1901, Quality Street was a huge hit in London's west end (and yes it was inspired by the chocolates!)
If you enjoy the world of Jane Austen or revelled in previous Pitlochry festival Theatre productions of Barrie's plays, you'll love this moving romance, an exploration of passing youth, second chances, and the transformative power of love