In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

144 Comparative Drama and Loeb (p. 564) editions as well as that of Frans Oudendorp: Pharsalia (LeY~: Samuel Luchtmann. 1728), n, 740-41. For corroboration, see alSo Charlton T· Lewll! and Charles Short, A lAtin Dictionary (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1879), s.v. Crocus. For the Use of saffron perfume in the theaterS and amphitheaters of antiquity, Oudendorp notes the authority of Propertius (Elegies IV:114) and the late ~nth-centurY humanists 1ustuS Lipsius and 10seph 1uste Scal.iger. T. W. Baldwm distusses the availability of Propertius· and the fair chance that Shakespeare.might have ac::tu~ read that author (II, 547, 551). Lewis and Short add other references from antiq~ty, though not all theatrical that attest to the general use of perfumed water: Pliny (21.6.17), Seneca's Let';rs (90.15), Lucretius (2.416), Horace's Epiltles (2.1.79): and Martial (5.25). An unsIgned article in theE:ncy.clopaedia Britannica (Chicago. William Benton, 1973), 8.V. "Saf!ron," mentions ~at m th~ perfume there was mixed some wine-obviously red wine if Lucan's blood lJllB.gery IS to make sense. !I I shall return to this task in a subsequent issue of this journal. Placing Shaffer's Lettice and Lovage in Perspective C. J. Gianakaris Peter Shaffer caught audiences off guard with Lettice and Lovage, his latest stage work. Mer twenty consecutive years of writing serious drama, suddenly in 1987 he returned to comedy with a brilliantly witty full-length play. That Shaffer is capable of sparkling comedy comes as no surprise, given the string of popular one-act plays (Black Comedy. White Liars, Public Eye, and Private Ear) staged two decades earlier. But here was a complex three-act comedy, engaging audiences on several planes, something rarely possible .with smaller-scale comedies. Equally. unexpected was finding two women figures at the center of the plot-unexpected because throughout his career Shaffer has been accused of inability, or unwillingness, to create plausible female characters as protagonists. Moreover, in Lettice and Lovage Shaffer centers the action on thematic materials substantially different from those of his recent writings. Obsessions with mortality. framed in bleak metaphysical terms-as found in Royal Hunt of the Sun. Shrivings , Equus. Yonadab. and much of Amadeus-stand very far removed from the laughter of Lettfce and Lovage. Concomi.:. taUtly, celebrated figures from the historical past (i.e., Pizarro. Atahuallpa. Mozart, Salieri. King David, Absalom, and Yonadab ) are replaced with contemporary workaday citizens as protagonists. .Furthermore. reconciled friendship marks the denouement of Lettice and Lovage. not shattered relationships and dreams. With respect to staging. too. Shaffer temporarily abandons experimental techniques and relies mstead on the straightforward realism he had utilized in the previous comedies. . C. 1. GIANAKARIS, Professor of English at Westem Michigan University, has recently completed a book on Peter Shaffer-to be published in 1989 by MacmiIlan of London (Modern Dramatists Series). 14S 146 Comparative Drama What does this apparent turnabout in theme, treatment, and dramatic technique reveal of Shaffer's current interests and dramatic art? Did the tepid critical reception to Yonadab alter his career-long·goal of arguing existential questions using innovative theatrical structures? Are .his recent experiments with Total Theater at an end? Will comedy replace serious drama as his preferred means of expression?! These are important questions, concerning as they do a prominent international playwright whose numerous successes over the past twenty-five years have earned him the theater's most prestigious awards, including two Tonys and an Oscar. Clarification of the way in which this new play finds its place in Shaffer'S expanding art wi11logicallyinvolve weighing the themes and staging techniques of Lettice and Lovage against these same aspects in his previous works. Those who have long observed Shaffer's creative work for the theater, however, rightly would expect Lettice and Lovage to giv: evidence of attril:lUtes mre evolutionary than radical. If pnor patterns of his creative behavior hold, antecedents for much of what seems new in Lettice ana Lovage should exist in some form in various of his earlier plays. . First, however, consideration of the premiere production will offer clues to the playwright's intentions, since one of the most persistent marks...


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 145-161
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.