Six Caroline Plays The Lad of Pleasure | The Wedding | A Mad Couple Well Matched | The Antipodes | The Wits | The Parson's Wedding

Six Caroline Plays The Lad of Pleasure | The Wedding | A Mad Couple Well Matched | The Antipodes | The Wits | The Parson's Wedding

Six Caroline Plays The Lad of Pleasure | The Wedding | A Mad Couple Well Matched | The Antipodes | The Wits | The Parson's Wedding

Six Caroline Plays The Lad of Pleasure | The Wedding | A Mad Couple Well Matched | The Antipodes | The Wits | The Parson's Wedding

Excerpt

The reign of Charles I is not an inspiring one for the student of drama. Most of the great writers of the Jacobean period were stale, silent, or dead. Those who were alive and productive can be divided into two groups, gentlemen--the amateurs at court and the two universities--and professionals. Of the latter Massinger is the most considerable; the comparative ease of accessibility to his work is both a measure of his stature and the reason that none of it appears in this volume. The most prolific and most consistent in attainment is James Shirley. Behind these two stretches out a line that reaches to the closing of the theatres and beyond: Richard Brome, Shakerley Marmion, Thomas Nabbes, Thomas Randolph ('the tribe of Ben'), Henry Glapthorne, Davenport, to name only a selection. The gentlemen include Lodowick Carlell, Cartwright, Habington, Jasper Mayne, Strode, Suckling, and Killigrew. Davenant, soldier of fortune and, like Killigrew later, theatre-manager, bridges the division.

A volume such as this cannot cover the whole range of dramatic activity in the period. All the plays chosen are comedies except one, a tragi-comedy. If the selection is thought biased, the defence is that the best work of the period was done in those genres. The plays have been selected not to illustrate a view of the development of drama but for their intrinsic merit as plays acted or written (wholly or in part, since The Parson's Wedding was revised after the Restoration) in the reign of Charles I. If the aim of the selection had been to give examples of the work not only of the leading professional dramatists but of all the species of amateur playwright as well--courtier, academic and nonacademic--the volume would have been much thicker but not necessarily weightier.

Thomas Randolph, precocious, brilliant, and shortlived, who belongs as much to Cambridge and the academic drama as to London and the public theatres, is the most appealing of the academics, but his best play, Hey for Honesty, is . . .

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