rushthatspeaks: (Default)
A sparkling Augustan set-piece, the most famous English play of the eighteenth century. It is, of course, a romantic comedy, which has, of course, the original scene in which both a husband and a wife are for different reasons concealed behind different screens in the same room spying on the same people. It is clearly the parent not only of Georgette Heyer (who evidently developed her slang by running amok with Sheridan's) but also of the Hollywood screwball comedy, and I kept expecting people to go off with one another's bags as well as spouses, or the sudden appearance of a leopard, or an actress, or someone's identical twin; it was strange when nothing of the sort happened. It also reminds me somewhat of Les Liaisons Dangereuses-- a benevolent polite version in which everything works out for the best.

I am not sure this is a play one ought to read, as opposed to seeing, because I enjoyed it, but I could tell that it would come to life amazingly in good hands, with good blocking and the correct chemistry in the correct directions. I'm rather surprised I've never heard of a film of it, although of course I might simply not have heard, but things like the scene in which the young wastrel auctions his entire ancestral portrait gallery to a man who is actually the wastrel's uncle in disguise are tailor-made for cinema. (I devoutly hope that in every version ever done the portraits are terrible. You can't have this sort of thing with good pictures. It wouldn't be right, somehow.)

I am also very glad that it isn't a verse play, because Sheridan's prose dialogue is bouncy and snappy and deliciously bitchy, but his verse prologue dedication to his patroness reads as though someone has surgically removed all the wit and fire from something by Alexander Pope. It is not even a noteworthy bad poem, because the man can scan and the grammar is grammatical and the images are not outlandish; it's just incredibly lackluster. Fortunately the actual play is not so afflicted, and I have added it to my brief list of things I would like to see if a theatre happens to be showing them. (Having managed to see within the last several years live stage productions of both The Duchess of Malfi and Machiavelli's The Mandrake, I feel I have used up any right to devoutly pray for the revival of any particular play, as it was so obviously impossible I should get the two I most wanted and got-- Malfi's not unheard of, but I only had to take a bus two hundred miles for the Machiavelli, and it was in English, so the whole thing was wildly unlikely. That said, I'd like a general run of Jacobeans, and also The Cenci and Prometheus Unbound, and for someone to find Zamyatin's unpublished play in a basement in Russia while they're at it.)

IMDB says there is a movie, 1930, starring, of all people, Ian Fleming. I should find out whether that exists in any accessible format.


rushthatspeaks: (Default)

March 2017

56789 1011


RSS Atom

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags
Page generated Mar. 26th, 2017 01:33 am
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios