All entries for Thursday 13 January 2011

January 13, 2011

Double Falsehood interview

Writing about web page http://news.sky.com/skynews/Home/Showbiz-News/Shakespeare-Lost-Play-Is-Shown-On-Stage-For-First-Time-Since-18th-Century/Article/201101215894029?lpos=Showbiz_News_First_UK_News_Article_Teaser_Region_3&lid=ARTICLE_15894029_Shakespeare%3A_Lost_Play_Is_Shown_On_Stage_For_First_Time_Since_18th_Century__

This is a link to a Sky News feature on the upcoming production of Double Falsehood at the Union Theatre. Its claims to be the first production since 1793 are VERY tenuous - a full (amateur) production, of course, took place in the same venue, the Union Theatre, only a few months ago; and productions of the play have been around for quite some time under the name Cardenio, usually with a certain amount of adaptation. This is, therefore, properly The First Professional Production Of The Play Under The Name Double Falsehood Since 1793.

The Sky article is also riddled with mistakes, as it fails to distinguish between Cardenio and Double Falsehood. Let's be clear - Double Falsehood is Lewis Theobald's play, BASED on what we believe to have been a collaboration between Fletcher and Shakespeare called Cardenio. To say Shakespeare and Fletcher wrote Double Falsehood is very misleading; as to is the claim that the RSC is producing Double Falsehood when it's actually producing a Cardenio, based on several sources including Shelton's Don Quixote and Theobald's Double Falsehood.

These might sound like pedantic points, but they're key to the controversy. The kneejerk reaction against the play from academics and critics alike is based on the impression that this play is being presented as a lightly-touched-up version of a true Shakespeare play. The fact is, even if it ISN'T a forgery (and Tiffany Stern's forthcoming article raises some serious questions), Double Falsehood is removed by several stages of transmission from the putative Shakespeare/Fletcher play, making the reality far less sensational than the claims.

Those are all asides - however, I'm hugely looking forward to the production. The KDC production at the Union was fine and took some interesting decisions, but suffered from being a bit ponderous. I'm hoping this one will be a bit livelier and fight the case for the play's worth - it was, after all, once quite popular.


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I’m Peter Kirwan, a final year doctoral student in the English Department at Warwick, and this is my PhD blog.


Conferences, reviews, articles, thoughts and links relating to my interests in the Shakespeare apocrypha, early modern drama, authorship and performance.

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