A New Way to Please You, Or, The Old Law

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Nick Hern, 2005 - Drama - 91 pages
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RSC Gunpowder Season explosive Elizabethan and Jacobean dramas of dissent, staged by the RSC in 2005.

A black comedy about a question that haunts us today - what to do about an ageing population.

The Old Law is passed. At the ages of eighty and sixty respectively, all men and women are to be put to death as they are of no further use to society. A play full of cross-generational fireworks, A New Way to Please You tackles underlying questions about the law and ageing.

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About the author (2005)

Middleton, who wrote in a wide variety of genres and styles, was a thoroughly professional dramatist. His comedies are generally based on London life but are seen through the perspective of Roman comedy, especially those of Plautus. Middleton is a masterful constructor of plots. "A Chaste Maid in Cheapside" (1630) is typical of Middleton's interests. It is biting and satirical in tone: the crassness of the willing cuckold Allwit is almost frightening. Middleton was very preoccupied with sexual themes, especially in his tragedies, "The Changeling" (1622), written with William Rowley, and "Women Beware Women" (1621). The portraits of women in these plays are remarkable. Both Beatrice-Joanna in "The Changeling" and Bianca in "Women Beware Women" move swiftly from innocence to corruption, and Livia in "Women Beware Women" is noteworthy as a feminine Machiavelli and manipulator. In his psychological realism and his powerful vision of evil, Middleton is close to Shakespeare.

John Ford (1586-1639) was an English playwright whose works have often been cited as examples of the 'decadence' of Caroline Drama. In the 19th century he was admired by Charles Lamb but attacked by William Hazlitt and others, who accused him of lacking a sense of morality. However, many 20th-century critics have praised his insight into character and his skill in writing dialogueHis best known play is the bloody tragedy '"Tis Pity She's a Whore" (1627). Other works inlcude "Love's Sacrifice "(1627), the tragicomedy "The Lover's Melancholy" (1628), and "Perkin Warbeck "(1634), described by T. S. Eliot as "one of the very best historical plays in the whole of Elizabethan and Jacobean drama.

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