First a disclaimer: I’ve seen a lot of Shakespeare, and I’ve read Shakespeare a lot; not so much his contemporaries, and I’ve never read nor seen Philaster before. All I knew of the play before seeing it at the Blackfriars Playhouse was that scholars believe it either influenced or was influenced by Shakespeare’s Cymbeline. Certainly, similarities exist, most intriguingly the role of Dion in Philaster and the Second Lord in Cymbeline, both of whom make comically disparaging asides throughout the play. Most other similarities between the plays seem, to me, more to do with shared form than stolen content.
That's my opinion from watching this production of Philaster as carried off by the Actors' Renaissance Season company with ease and affection. Cymbeline has some fine poetical moments and a couple of memorable characters, but this Philaster came off as a much more entertaining play. While it had more than its fair share of heartbreaking moments, it also had non-stop intrigue and some extraordinary speeches. Beaumont and Fletcher clearly had some skills in composition (the latter had enough skill for Shakespeare to collaborate with him on three plays). If there’s any 400-year-after quarterbacking to be leveled at Beaumont and Fletcher, it was the choice of genre they made their specialty: tragicomic romances with whimsical, fairy-tale-like plots and archetype characters.
For best seats, order tickets for Philaster, or Love Lies a-Bleeding today.
Written by Eric Minton of Shakespeareances.com
|<< November 2014 >>|
The Comedy of Errors
Friday, November 28, 2014, 2:00 pm
Friday, November 28, 2014, 7:30 pm
Saturday, November 29, 2014, 2:00 pm
Saturday, November 29, 2014, 7:30 pm
Cyrano de Bergerac
Sunday, November 30, 2014, 2:00 pm
Actors' Renaissance Season