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Reviews317 plays concerned. Settings as diverse as the Macbeths' castle, the prosperous bourgeois town-house, and the rural artisan's cottage are taken in within an itinerary that ends with satisfying homiletic inevitability in the House of Correction in Dekker's 2 Honest Whore. The analysis, alive to anthropological as well as literary theory, mixes Mary Douglas and Norbert Elias with Althusser, Foucault, and Freud. In an epilogue, parallels are sought, a little awkwardly, with subsequent domestic dramas, chiefly those of Diderot, Ibsen, and Miller. And here, the profoundly different material, cultural, and theatrical conditions under which the later plays were produced and received makes the attempt to see continuities, rather than simply similarities, a perilous enterprise. Otherwise, however, the book is stimulating and richly allusive. GREG WALKER University ofLeicester Alexandra F. Johnston and Wim Hüsken, eds. English Parish Drama. Ludus: Medieval and Early Renaissance Theatre and Drama, 1. Amsterdam : Rodopi, 1996. Pp. 157. $31.00; Hfl 50. Readers can be forgiven if the first mental image that came into their minds on seeing the title of this book was a Christmas play performed by children. A glance at the back cover should be enough to dispel this impression and challenge the same readers to look behind the modest title for a fine collection of essays that will answer many questions about English provincial drama and folk customs in the period it covers. This is indeed a solid assembly of engaging and detailed analyses of material painstakingly collected from a wide range of locations . Some of the material on which the essays are based has appeared in the publications of the Records of Early English Drama series, but the bulk of it is yet to appear in print. All of the contributors are associated with the REED project as past or present editors. This new Ludus series has provided them with a forum in which they have been able to preview some of the things to come in future REED volumes. More importantly, it has allowed them to give more extensive treatment to particular forms of entertainment than they are able to when they are wearing their REED editorial hats. Ludus is therefore an extremely valuable addition to the company of publications that foster discussion of early drama, and theater historians can look forward to a continuing dialogue in future issues. The collection offers a broad view of an aspect of the early English theatrical scene that is likely to become increasingly a focus of interest for scholars in the field. Critical attention has, in the past, been drawn to those towns that have had the good fortune to preserve either written dramatic texts, extensive records of dramatic presentations, or sometimes , as in the case of York and Chester, both complete texts and im- 3 1 8 Comparative Drama pressive collections of records. As a result of the growing number of publications in the REED series, there is now potential for change. This publication represents a major step towards interpreting the nature and extent of less well known dramatic and semi-dramatic activities. Its choice of a focus on events associated with church fund raising initiatives foregrounds a theatrical culture of a different kind. Inside the pages of this book, the reader will find an organized but perhaps less predictable medieval theater that operated in support of local churches—but, as a number of the contributors point out, one that was not always in accordance with establishment views on decorum. The essays are to a large extent based on churchwardens' financial accounts and records of ecclesiastical legal proceedings. No class of medieval document can be said to have set out to tell scholars of later times everything they want to know or to have encoded their information in a form that is immediately decipherable. Each class of document has its own agenda and conventions and has therefore to be approached on its own terms. The contributors to this collection have tackled two of the more inscrutable forms of documentation available to theater historians, and the reader is fortunate in being able to benefit from an expertise developed over long periods of exposure to the record-keeping culture of the...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1936-1637
Print ISSN
0010-4078
Pages
pp. 317-320
Launched on MUSE
2016-10-05
Open Access
No
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