Gender and Performance in Shakespeare's Problem Comedies

Synopsis

"This is exactly the kind of work, with its synthesis of theory, close reading, and deconstructive performance criticism that many of us in the profession have been looking for." -- Joel B. Altman, University of California, Berkeley

"McCandless's book represents an inventive and illuminating account that not only produces a theoretically activated text but also explores a range of options for staging it, turning theoretical into theatrical meanings." -- Barbara Hodgdon, Drake University

"The writing is clear, snappy, wonderfully informed with a vivid and experienced theatrical imagination... a book that taught me a good deal about the problem comedies, especially from the vantage point of performance, though the insights into performance are fully and incisively integrated with, and they richly illuminate, formal, thematic, and psychological vantage points on the play." -- Richard P. Wheeler, University of Illinois

Composed at a critical moment in English history, All's Well That Ends Well, Measure for Measure, and Troilus and Cressida -- Shakespeare's problem plays -- dramatize a crisis in the sex-gender system. They register a male dread of emasculation and engulfment, a fear of female authority and sexuality. In these plays males identify desire for a female as dangerous and unmanly, females contend and confound traditional femininity. David McCandless's book is a unique and invigorating example of performance criticism that illuminates these difficult, sometimes-overlooked tragicomedies. It is an original and timely contribution to Shakespearean theater scholarship.