Shakespearian Comedy and the Early 18th Century Theater
Bucknell Studies in Eighteenth Century Literature and Culture
In The Taste of the Town: Shakespearian Comedy and the Early Eighteenth-Century Theater, Katherine West Scheil considers the reception history of Shakespeare's comedies within the context of the Restoration and early eighteenth-century theater, from 1660 until the Licensing Act of 1737.
In the absence of an overarching methodology about how to stage and interpret Shakespeare, playwrights of the period were motivated by popular taste, and adapted and appropriated Shakespearian comedy according to current theatrical and cultural trends. Scheil discusses how the popularity of music and dance, poiltical controversies, the fluidity of acting companies, the influence of print culture, a recently edited play, a popular comic actor, a new musical composer, or a novel way of constructing a scene affected the rendition of Shakespeare's comedies to appeal to the taste of town.
Thoroughly researched and carefully argued, The Taste of the Town, is a valuable and timely contribution to the understanding of the culture and practice of the Restoration and early eighteenth-century theater; as well as to the history of Shakespeare's early reputation.
"This book will remain the standard account for years to come." --Don-John Dugas (Scriblerian)
Dympna Callaghan, Syracuse University, writes in a review entitled "Recent Studies in Tudor and Stuart Drama" (SEL 44:20) that Scheil "provides a valuable and scholarly history of theater adaptation, examining the way the comedies were altered and appropriated in light of current trends and audience demand" (420), particularly the differences between eighteenth century and Restoration adaptations.