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Reviews189 formance. The links between Elliott's pronouncements and the material available to him from the sources he explores in previous chapters often seem tenuous. The illustrations are clear and helpful although one would welcome more pictures from places other than York, and a photograph of William Poel in Everyman (not difficult to procure) would have been a pleasant tribute to one of the pioneers. Plate 5, claimed on page 90 to show Lucifer's expulsion from Heaven in the 1963 York production, is correctly captioned "Judi Dench as Mary, York Festival, 1957" on page xvi. There are also more typographical errors than might be expected from this prestigious publishing house. In a similar way this book from one of our most active and admired commentators on medieval theater leaves one wishing that Professor Elliott had not had to leave quite so many gaps in his lively account of mystery plays in a modern context, and that he had extended his final conclusions beyond what are on too many occasions no more than the expression of sound personal opinions. By doing so he would undoubtedly have drawn the practices he has observed and the theories he has formulated into an even closer relationship. WILLIAM TYDEMAN University College of North Wales Marvin Carlson. Places of Performance: The Semiotics of Theatre Architecture . Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1989. Pp. 212. $36.95. A semiotic analysis of this volume suggests that it is calculated to impress. Entering the book is rather like the street approach to one of the ducal palace theatres that Carlson describes, with a "formal, regular, and powerful" (p. 25) vista preparing the way. The reader progresses from the attractive glossy cover with its crisply-reproduced painting of a medieval marketplace performance, through purple endpapers, to a list of eight books "also by Marvin Carlson" (which the theatre historian will recognize as seminal works), to the book's title emblazoned across two pages, over a bird's eye view of New York's Lincoln Center complex. Inside, the high-quality paper, wide margins, beautiful typeface, and 105 illustrations combined with on-the-page footnotes usually referring to out-of-the-way sources in foreign languages implies that the publisher was trying to have it both ways: a coffee-table book for casual readers and a scholarly book for academics. These signifiers in the book's design—which were presumably not a part of Carlson's own contribution—may have done him a disservice, for they inflate expectations of the book's importance. Does the text fulfill the promise of the presentation? Well, it does and it doesn't. Certainly, Carlson thinks and writes lucidly. He has something substantial to say to the specialist, and he couches it in language accessible to the layman. What the study does, it does elegantly. Like the entertainments in those ducal palaces, it dazzles its audience but ultimately leaves it wanting more. The purpose of this study of the physical theatre through the ages 190Comparative Drama is to explore "how places of performance generate social and cultural meanings of their own which in turn help to structure the meaning of the entire theatre experience" (p. 2). To accomplish this, Carlson's Introduction proposes and justifies a semiotic methodology. Chapter 1, "The City as Theatre," shows how and why the center of medieval theatrical activity moved about the entire city; it suggests further the political factors involved in the reshaping of cities from labyrinths of winding streets suitable for medieval processions to the wider vistas on a regularized grid that developed in the Renaissance along with the practice of royal entries. Chapter 2, "The Jewel in the Casket," juxtaposes two quite different manifestations of performance space embedded within private space: the self-congratulatory exclusiveness of court theatres, and the political defiance of private performances like Sir William Davenant's operas at Rutland House during the Commonwealth or the kind of "living room theatre" hosted by courageous dissidents in modern Poland, Hungary, and Czechoslovakia. The discussion of the theatre's placement within the city in Chapter 3, "The Urban Hub," is perhaps the most interesting, original, and wide-ranging (from classical Greek theatres to London's Barbican) section...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1936-1637
Print ISSN
0010-4078
Pages
pp. 189-191
Launched on MUSE
2016-10-05
Open Access
No
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