Act II Summary

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Last Updated on June 1, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 548

The second act opens with a tense conversation between Guy and Hannah, conducted in a local cafe. Guy appears to have undergone something of a transformation in the last few months. He is no longer a hang-dog weakling but rather a local Lothario. He has been carrying on two affairs— one with Hannah, who is in love with him, and another with Fay, who is still trying to involve him in the BLM land scam. Hannah tries to badger Guy into choosing between her and Fay.

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Suddenly, Fay appears. The cat-fight between the two women comically imitates a similar conflict between Polly and Lucy in The Beggar’s Opera. Hannah departs in fury. Fay points out that it was she who handed Guy the role of Filch (another role upgrade), then hints threateningly that he must ‘‘come up with the goods’’ in return for the favor.

In the next scene, the conflict between Hannah and Fay is repeated in the struggles between Bridget, as Jenny Diver, and Linda, both of whom fight over Crispin, as Macheath. After Hannah and Linda depart the stage, Guy tries to inform Jarvis that people are scheming to profit from his land, but Jarvis is too busy telling Guy an old story about his grandfather to pay much attention.

Dafydd re-enters. He is oblivious to Guy’s affair with Hannah, and, to make matters worse, confides in Guy that he is having trouble in his marriage. He complains that Hannah is ‘‘a bloody deep-freeze of a woman.’’ However, since Guy knows that she is not, the audience is left to conclude that the fault lies with Dafydd. The scene ends in a now-familiar pattern: following Crispin’s rude departure, the role of Macheath is vacant. Rebecca suggest that Guy accept it, and sure enough, he weakly agrees to step in.

A song from Guy, as Macheath, bridges the scene change to Rebecca Huntley-Pike’s garden. It soon becomes clear that Rebecca is the source of the mysterious rumor about the BLM land deal. Guy is tempted to accept Jarvis’s pay-off of five hundred pounds and does in fact pocket it. He is becoming more and more like Macheath.

A lighting change finds the cast involved in a final dress rehearsal. Guy changes into his costume for Macheath. The subsequent scene, in which he rejects Hannah, is in keeping with his stage character: his transformation is complete. The parting between the two lovers is repeatedly interrupted by a still-oblivious Dafydd, who is frantically trying to rig the lighting for the performance.

When Ian enters with the news that BLM is closing, all hell breaks loose. The land scam will not take place, and the disappointed cast members turn against Guy. Ian informs Dafydd of Hannah and Guy’s affair, and Dafydd too turns against Guy.

The final scene of A Chorus of Disapproval is the last scene of The Beggar’s Opera. The players enact the final reprieve of Macheath. The curtain falls and the actors embrace one another. But the audience, recalling the play’s opening scene, knows that this scene will shortly be followed by their rejection of Guy. The ending is ambiguous—both a celebration of Guy (Macheath) and a rejection of the change he has wreaked upon their lives.

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Act I Summary