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338Comparative Drama the skull prop in Hamlet, The Honest Whore, part 1, and The Revenger's Tragedy. (This chapter makes use ofhis article in ELR, but includes a substantial amount ofnew material.) The most developed chapter,"The Fan ofMode," considers the way that performers on the Restoration and eighteenth-century stage used fans to illustrate action, to suggest relationships, and to construct and deconstruct gender identity. It was also the chapter I found most exciting, probablybecause Soferspeculatesonthepossible stagingfor specific moments, recalling some ofJ. L. Styan's work on the subject. Finally, the book concludes with a discussion of guns in Hedda Gabler, Happy Days, and Fefu and Her Friends. The writing is crisp, thoughtful, and playful throughout, and while an individual reader might not agree with a particular observation, the book always leaves room for other views. A stage-centered awareness as well as an acute literary consciousness inform all of the discussion. My principal complaint is that the text runs about two hundred pages and the notes about fifty; some of the observations in the notes would belong more appropriately in the main discussion where they could be expanded. In the chapter on the bloody handkerchief, for example, I felt cheated by note 73, which listed nine other Renaissance plays that use the property, as well as a number ofRestoration and Georgian plays. Similarly, his brief comments on the staging and meaning of the host in notes 43 and 55 would have enriched his analysis. But these are quibbles. The book is an excellent study, and anyone who claims an interest in performance needs to own it. Frances Teague University ofGeorgia John Lennard and Mary Luckhurst. The Drama Handbook:A Guide to Reading Plays. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002. Pp. Xu + 416. $15.95. A colleague recently complained to me about the difficulty of finding good anthologies ofliterature for children and adolescents; often there is a dearth of children's literature in these collections, and what is available for adolescents is as often about literature itself as it is about adolescent literature. Moreover, anthologies are expensive, and frequently cost seventy dollars or more. My colleague's solution has been to select sets of individual books and to become the textbook. Drama teachers can sympathize with this dilemma since there are many fine drama anthologies. Seldom, however, does any single collection contain all Reviews339 of the playtexts one might want; at the same time all contain some playtexts that one does not need. Then there are matters of expense and students' budgets to take into consideration in the selection process. Given all this, whether to add a text such as The Drama Handbook to an already full reading list of stand-alone playtexts is something of a dilemma. The book may be handy, but its expense, even if relatively limited, could prove to be the breaking point for the financially stressed student.Anotherconcern is with whether the book will be used enough during the course to warrant its expense. TheDrama Handbook is useful in its setup. It makes a range ofvaluable points and raises many worthwhile questions. However, its limitations make it a doubtful addition to classes in which an instructor wishes his or her students to engage the playtexts themselves rather than to read about playtexts. At the same time, the Handbook could prove very helpful to instructors who are designing and leading those classes. Based in its authors' own teaching experience and designed to be "a reliable short guide to reading plays" (x), The Drama Handbook aims to provide "students ofEnglish Literature ... what ... [they] need to know to avoid misunderstanding drama" (1). While the claim to have written a "short" guide is suspect , given its length, the text's arrangement is efficient. Its thirty-two chapters are short: none is more than twenty pages, and many are fewer than ten, making each ideal reading as an introduction to a playtext or interspersed with a set ofplaytexts,particularlyifthe instructorwere to use corresponding chapters to illuminate aspects ofthe playtexts themselves.As the authors note, the chapters have the capacity to stand alone (4): courses that will not be engaging with religious, eighteenth- or nineteenth-century drama can bypass those chapters...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1936-1637
Print ISSN
0010-4078
Pages
pp. 338-341
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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