At Play

Part of the English Dramatists book series (ENGDRAMA)


A knowledgeable audience accustomed to attending the sort of theatre that still characterises London’s Shaftesbury Avenue today would probably recognise it as, in many ways, a perpetuation of the kind of theatre in which Vanbrugh and Farquhar’s plays were produced on the edge of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. However, an audience magically transported from an original performance of, say, The Relapse to a contemporary revival would face far greater difficulties in establishing the connection. For, although much of the essential structure of the auditorium and performance area might appear related, virtually everything that takes place in a modern theatre — from the style of, and the technical aids to, performance to the constituency and behaviour of the audience — would be quite alien.


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  1. 1.
    On this, see Richard Southern, ‘Theatres and Scenery’, in The Revels History of Drama in English: Volume V 1660–1750 (London: Methuen, 1976), pp. 83–118.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Ibid., and J. L. Styan, Restoration Comedy in Performance (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986), pp. 19–42.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Richard Southern, Changeable Scenery (London: Faber and Faber, 1952), p. 24.Google Scholar
  4. 6.
    Jonathan Swift, ‘The Preface of the Author’, from A Full and True Account of the Battle Fought Last Friday Between the Ancient and the Modern Books in St James’s Library, in Angus Ross and David Woolley (eds), Jonathan Swift (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1984), p. 1.Google Scholar
  5. 7.
    Montague Summers, The Restoration Theatre (London: Kegan Paul, 1934), p. 60.Google Scholar
  6. 10.
    Simon Callow, Acting in Restoration Comedy (New York: Applause, 1991), p. 84.Google Scholar
  7. 13.
    Benjamin Hellinger, A Short View of the Immorality and Prophaneness of the English Stage: A Critical Edition (London: Garland, 1987), pp. lxviii–lxx.Google Scholar
  8. 16.
    John Palmer, The Comedy of Manners (London: Bell, 1913), p. 241.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© John Bull 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of ReadingUK

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