Tuesday, September 9, 2014

The Rover - Behn (92)

Before I talk about 'The Rover', let me speak a little about the author, Aphra Behn.  I'd never heard of her before, and perhaps you haven't either.  (Here is her Wikipedia page, if you want more depth.)  Aphra Behn was (probably) the first woman to earn her living by writing.  Or at least the first European one.  She published 'The Rover' in 1677, some sixty years after Shakespeare died.  Her drama is very bawdy and, from what I can tell, she is little produced nowadays.
Which is a damn shame because 'The Rover' is a fun, fun play.  It focuses on a household of women in Naples.  The women are of different status levels and experience in love.  They have certain romantic and commercial entanglements.  And in fact, the romance and the commerce are quite tangled together.  They meet a band of English cavaliers and, well, the tangling continues more and more.  It's a comedy, but the topics covered have a tinge of seriousness. 
The women are smart and sophisticated.  They understand that vows of true love come with a dear price.  When one of the women, Helena, is talking to one of the cavaliers before he goes to a duel, she asks:

And if you do not lose, what shall I get? A cradle full of noise and mischief and a pack of repentance for my back?
What a great line!  The dialogue is full of wonderful lines.  It's a shame that this isn't better known.  I could easily see a period piece movie done from this script.  It would do as well as a good Shakespearean adaptation.  Anyway, if you get a chance, do see it.

Next up: 'Le Cid' by Pierre Corneille, also from the 17th century.  I've been somewhat delayed from writing so I've already read ahead.  Expect this review to go up next week.  

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