Restoration Comedy, 1671–1682: A Catalogue By María José Mora


The Restoration Comedy Project is the first attempt to provide a detailed catalogue of all English comedies produced between the recovery of theatrical activities after the restoration of Charles II in 1660 and the proto-union of the companies in 1706 under the reign of Queen Anne, a time span of nearly fifty years that was crucial in the development of English drama in general and specially comedy. Volume I (1660-1670) discusses the comedies produced in the years following the reopening of the theatres and traces the development of new generic models. Volume II (1671-1682) tracks the growth and decline of the patent companies until the crisis sparked by the Popish Plot and the ruin of the King’s Co. forced a union. Volume III (1682-1694): focuses on the comic production of the United Co. and Volume IV (1695-1706) covers a period marked by the reestablishment of the two-company system.

This volume includes a file for each of the comedies written in the years 1660-1670 with information on title page, performance details, editions, prefatory matters, structure, genre, characters, actors, plot, stage directions, music, and sources. A general introduction advances conclusions derived from analysis of the data collected and incorporates explanatory tables and charts. In addition, a set of appendixes enables a quick search of specific data. Most of the plays in this first volume were staged by the new companies that primarily catered for the court and the nobility, but also for a select group of gentlemen of the town and also ordinary citizens. They all remained loyal playgoers through such dramatic events as the London Plague, the destruction caused by the Great Fire, the Dutch War, and the crises and scandals touching the entourage of the Stuart monarch.

This book will enable readers to follow the development of comedy, from tentative adaptations of old plays to the new models introduced at the end of the decade. It also reveals the relationship between Restoration actors and the parts especially written for them, particularly the growing importance of female roles now that women were able to take to the stage; the system of patronage; the way prologues and epilogues adapted to the changing nature of audiences and commented on contemporary events and fashions; the growing complexity of stagecraft, and the increasing relevance of music, song, and dance as important elements in the drama.

As the volume presents valuable information on comedies and, more generally, on dramatic practices during the first decade of the Restoration, it will prove invaluable to students and scholars and to anyone interested in the development of English theatre and its history.