Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Premiering … Cardenio?


Kinda sorta not really?

My experts probably know the drill, but for the newbies:    There’s been a play that we’ve known about for a while, called Double Falsehood (not sure if there’s a The in front of that) by Lewis Theobald.  Here’s the thing – he always maintained that it was an adaptation of Shakespeare’s Cardenio, the holy grail of lost Shakespeare plays.

“Ummm…and do you *have* a copy of Cardenio?” people would excitedly ask him at cocktail parties, trying not to salivate.

“Unfortunately my dog ate it,” he would reply.  Or the 19th century equivalent of a similar excuse.


Anyway – a little while back (just last year?) renowed Shakespeare scholar Gary Taylor announced that he was backing Double Falsehood’s story, and has “re-adapted” (maybe?) it into The History of Cardenio.

If you’re in the neighborhood of Victoria University of Wellington next month (May 2009) you may get a chance to see it.

1 comment:

Craig said...

If there is any Shakespeare in Double Falsehood, it is exceedingly well-hidden. It is a silly little Georgian adaptation of a silly little Jacobean tragicomedy, with scarcely two words together that might plausibly be taken for very late-period Shakespeare.

I think the most likely chain of events is that John Fletcher wrote the original Cardenio, and Theobald adapted it. But the "double falsehoods" are most likely the attributions to Shakespeare by bookseller Humphrey Mosley (who attributed all kinds of spurious stuff to him) and Lewis Theobald himself, who declined to publicly show his manuscripts or include the play in his edition of the Complete Works, and felt obliged to publicly acknowledge that everyone thought the original was by Fletcher.

When it comes to Shakespeare attributions, Gary Taylor has been known to make a spectacular ass of himself ("Shall I die," anyone?), and I think he's right on form with this effort.

Cardenio mania is just starting to get on my nerves, I guess.