Eh Joe by Samuel Beckett (1967)

Beckett wrote his first play for television, Eh Joe, in May 1965. The first English broadcast of Eh Joe was on BBC2 on 4 July 1966, with Jack MacGowran playing Joe and Siân Phillips as Voice. The play is another of Beckett’s ‘skullscapes’ in the sense of being entirely about an older male figure ‘trapped’ inside […]

The Relapse by John Vanbrugh (1696)

Sir John Vanbrugh wrote a handful of plays before going on to a complete change of career, and becoming one of England’s finest country house architects, whose masterpieces include palatial private homes such as Castle Howard and Blenheim Palace. The Relapse, or, Virtue in Danger, the first of his plays, was in fact a sequel […]

The Way of The World by William Congreve (1700)

FAINALL: If it must all come out, why let ’em know it, ’tis but the way of the world. From a historical point of view, the most interesting thing about The Way of The World is that it was not well received. It was an attempt to continue the Restoration comedy conventions of aristocratic libertinage into what […]

Love For Love by William Congreve (1695)

SIR SAMPSON LEGEND: You are hard to please, madam: to find a young fellow that is neither a wit in his own eye, nor a fool in the eye of the world, is a very hard task. The humour of a Restoration comedy often starts with the cast list – the names are always inventively […]

The Double Dealer by William Congreve (1693)

‘I will deceive ’em all, and yet secure myself…This double-dealing is a jewel.’ (thoughts of the Double Dealer himself, the villainous Jack Maskwell) After the smash hit success of his first play, The Old Bachelor, Congreve quickly followed up with his second play, The Double Dealer, performed later the same year (1693). It is an experimental […]

The Old Bachelor by William Congreve (1693)

BELLMORE: Come, come, leave business to idlers and wisdom to fools; they have need of ’em.  Wit be my faculty, and pleasure my occupation; and let Father Time shake his glass. In his lengthy reply to the stinging criticisms of the contemporary stage contained in the polemical pamphlet, A Short View of the Immorality and […]

Introduction to The Plays of William Wycherley by W.C. Ward (1893)

Old literary criticism is often valuable because it sees works of literature in the round, as a whole. Its judgements are often mature, made by people who have seen a lot of life and often had other full-time careers, as lawyers, politician and so on. So their opinions are aware of and take into account […]

The Plain Dealer by William Wycherley (1676)

‘I’ll have no leading-strings; I can walk alone: I hate a harness’ (Manly in The Plain Dealer, Act One) William Wycherley wrote four comedies during the Restoration era. The Plain Dealer is the fourth and final one and is generally thought to be the best. It is a free adaptation of The Misanthrope (1666), one of […]

The Country Wife by William Wycherley (1675)

“It is a good representation of the age in which that Comedy was written, at which time love and wenching were the business of life, and the gallant manner of pursuing women was the best recommendation at Court.” (Richard Steele commenting on a revival of The Country Wife in 1709) Coming fresh from reading George Etherege’s […]

The Man of Mode, or Sir Fopling Flutter by George Etherege (1676)

‘Damn your authors, Courtage; women are the prettiest things we can fool away our time with.’ (Sir Fopling Flutter) Sir George Etherege (1636-92) came from a middle-class family, may or may not have gone to Cambridge (the record is unclear), he definitely studied law at the Inns of Court then went to Paris with his […]