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Although it was written shortly before or after Queen Elizabeth's deathin 1603 and performed by the boy company at Blackfriars, this playforeshadows the light ladies and callous gallants of Restorationcomedy. Passion is a scourge, love is humiliation, and friends might aswell be enemies. Freevill discards his concubine Franceschina and, fora joke, sets his straight-laced f Although it was written shortly before or after Queen Elizabeth's deathin 1603 and performed by the boy company at Blackfriars, this playforeshadows the light ladies and callous gallants of Restorationcomedy. Passion is a scourge, love is humiliation, and friends might aswell be enemies. Freevill discards his concubine Franceschina and, fora joke, sets his straight-laced friend Malheureux on to her, who fallsfor her and promises to carry out her revenge on Freevill by killinghim. The play in the theatre, which is fully imagined in theintroduction to this edition, impresses on the audience thespuriousness of rigid moral persuasions, especially when they are triedby fits of sexual passion.


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Although it was written shortly before or after Queen Elizabeth's deathin 1603 and performed by the boy company at Blackfriars, this playforeshadows the light ladies and callous gallants of Restorationcomedy. Passion is a scourge, love is humiliation, and friends might aswell be enemies. Freevill discards his concubine Franceschina and, fora joke, sets his straight-laced f Although it was written shortly before or after Queen Elizabeth's deathin 1603 and performed by the boy company at Blackfriars, this playforeshadows the light ladies and callous gallants of Restorationcomedy. Passion is a scourge, love is humiliation, and friends might aswell be enemies. Freevill discards his concubine Franceschina and, fora joke, sets his straight-laced friend Malheureux on to her, who fallsfor her and promises to carry out her revenge on Freevill by killinghim. The play in the theatre, which is fully imagined in theintroduction to this edition, impresses on the audience thespuriousness of rigid moral persuasions, especially when they are triedby fits of sexual passion.

30 review for The Dutch Courtesan

  1. 5 out of 5

    David Sarkies

    What to do with that bit on the side 5 May 2021 When I see the word courtesan I immediately think of a prostitute, but I think that is probably a bit simplistic. Okay, the Netherlands is quite well known for its prostitutes, especially the ones that stand in the booths and bang on windows attempting to catch the attention of the tourists who happen to be wandering by (and most of them simply go there because, well, it is definitely something pretty different, though I’ve heard that they plan on c What to do with that bit on the side 5 May 2021 When I see the word courtesan I immediately think of a prostitute, but I think that is probably a bit simplistic. Okay, the Netherlands is quite well known for its prostitutes, especially the ones that stand in the booths and bang on windows attempting to catch the attention of the tourists who happen to be wandering by (and most of them simply go there because, well, it is definitely something pretty different, though I’ve heard that they plan on closing the whole place down soon). However, a courtesan isn’t necessarily somebody that a nobleman has sex with on the side – the name actually suggests otherwise, namely that it is somebody (male or female), who works in the noble’s court. A lobbyist is probably a better way to describe them, or a public servant. This isn’t the case with this play though – Fransechina is clearly a prostitute and is basically Freevill’s bit on the side. However, Frevill is getting married to a noblewoman and has decided to pass Fanceschina off to his mate Malheureux (though he wouldn’t be the first, and definitely not the last, nobleman who keeps a few women under the hood for those times that he wants something slightly different, and somebody substantially kinkier, not that noblewomen can’t be kinky, though I can’t speak from experience). The thing is that Malheureux is a bit of a prude, namely because he happens to be a Calvinist, but despite that he falls in love with Franceschina. Yeah, it’s one of those plays, and the story is pretty interesting as well. It’s typical Elizabethan/Jacobean in that we have the higher class characters who are the protagonists, and the lower-class characters who happen to be the foils. However, it differs from Shakespeare’s quite a lot in that it is a lot grittier than his plays tend to be. This is why I like some of these plays because I tend to appreciate the grittier comedies somewhat more than the fairytale-like ones that Shakespeare tended to write. Mind you, Franceschina isn’t too happy that he has been tossed out of Freevil’s house in favor of a proper wife, and sort of wants to get back at him. This is the thing with Malheureux – he is pretty malleable, and because he has fallen in love with Franceschina, he is basically willing to do whatever she wants him to do to earn her favour. Well, she wants him to kill Freevill, something that a strict Calvinist is probably not going to do (though theoretically, strict Calvinists could go on a full-on murder spree and still get into heaven because predestination). I have to admit that this play does touch me in a way because, well, I was a bit (or should I say a lot) like Malheureux when I was much younger. Yeah, quite a prude, but falling for women a lot like Franceschina, and getting burnt in the process. There is also the idea of being handballed a woman that the boyfriend didn’t particularly want anymore, much in the way of the magical black book that gets passed to the younger brother when the owner finally gets married (though you don’t hear much about black books these days, probably because everything happens to be stored on our mobile phones, and that is if we actually make phone calls as opposed to using the countless number of apps that we have available). Yeah, this play was quite fun, and it is definitely a shame that we don’t see it performed as much as the Shakespearian ones, but then again maybe, if I manage to get my hands on a bit of money, and a few willing actors and such, we could probably produce a more modern version of it, but keep the grittiness alive – I reckon that would work.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Shaun

    Wondrous fun! Something of a mix between Much Ado About Nothing and , John Marston's city comedy is a lovely piece of early modern drama. The plot weaves between a few romantic entanglements, mainly that of (Young) Freevill, son a knight and general gadabout. There is also a subplot that ends up being a dig against Catholics (standard fare for a Protestant dramatist like Marston). Overall, the play is a hoot. Marston may lack some of the depth that you get with Shakespeare's plays, but he leaves Wondrous fun! Something of a mix between Much Ado About Nothing and , John Marston's city comedy is a lovely piece of early modern drama. The plot weaves between a few romantic entanglements, mainly that of (Young) Freevill, son a knight and general gadabout. There is also a subplot that ends up being a dig against Catholics (standard fare for a Protestant dramatist like Marston). Overall, the play is a hoot. Marston may lack some of the depth that you get with Shakespeare's plays, but he leaves out none of the mirth. Freevill sets in motion a romantic ruse in order to get comeuppance on the Puritanical Malheureaux. Malheureaux becomes almost instantly enamored with the Dutch prostitute Francischina, who is herself in love with Freevill, who is betrothed to Beatrice. Hijinx ensue, and a man named Mulligrub gets robbed blind several times by the mirthful and devious Cocledemoy. My major reservations about the play come from its often harsh tone against women, particularly Francischina. There are moments when Freevill speaks openly of the vileness of women, even as their bodies are a source of delight. Standard fare for its time, but still something to reflect on more seriously. The play does give some agency to its female characters - particularly the witty Crispinella, so there is that to look forward to. Overall, I really enjoyed the play. Plays like these really need to engage conversations, because they can lose you in the mirth. I would recommend to anyone who is a fan of Shakespeare's comedies or anyone interested in English drama outside of Shakespeare.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jordan St. Stier

    A humorous and bawdy play, filled with enough thievery and whoring for a Pre-Code movie. Somewhat predictable in the plotline, the play, featuring clever satire, witty verse, and the 17th Century equivalent of a Dutch accent is ripe (and/or rife) with misadventures and malchance , and is a rather satisfyingly light read compared to contemporary tragedies and verbose polemics. In the words of Cockledemoy, Hang Toasts!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Gill

    Some pretty unsavoury characters; the worse get their come-uppance, though the title character is perhaps not wholly deserving her fate. Lots of highly entertaining scenes, some of which were popularlyrevived well into the Restoration period. Read as part of the Shakespeare Institute 2019 readathon, #Websterthon

  5. 5 out of 5

    Shannon Jones

    Not bad but a bit of a weird one, even for the Renaissance. Foreign prostitute gets her comeuppance for . . . being foreign? Erm . . . hold that thought

  6. 5 out of 5

    Moon

    "I may cack in my pewter" is such a wonderful phrase it is a shame t'is not more versatile. "I may cack in my pewter" is such a wonderful phrase it is a shame t'is not more versatile.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Ingrid

    Great play showing 3 models of marriage and coming down in favor of the newer model with the more outspoken woman; might be good to teach together with Shakespeare's "Shrew." Great play showing 3 models of marriage and coming down in favor of the newer model with the more outspoken woman; might be good to teach together with Shakespeare's "Shrew."

  8. 5 out of 5

    Alan

    1988 notebook: plain speaking – Crispinella’s opinion of men. The man of snow. The low life of London. The constant flow of obscenity: farts, whores and buttocks. Knavery, wit, gulling, beer, wines, brothels and disease. Marston revels in it.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Casey

    This play is nearly an adaptation of Much Ado About Nothing, with huge chunks that deliberately steal from it. Its version of the "Kill Claudio" moment is hilarious. This play is nearly an adaptation of Much Ado About Nothing, with huge chunks that deliberately steal from it. Its version of the "Kill Claudio" moment is hilarious.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Sally

  11. 5 out of 5

    Arpita Kayal

  12. 4 out of 5

    Shaun

  13. 5 out of 5

    Kin Cosner

  14. 4 out of 5

    Nicholas Jackson

  15. 4 out of 5

    Jem Bloomfield

  16. 5 out of 5

    landon

  17. 4 out of 5

    John Skaife

  18. 4 out of 5

    Julia

  19. 4 out of 5

    Lauren

  20. 4 out of 5

    Lauren Short

  21. 5 out of 5

    Mark Woodland

  22. 4 out of 5

    Amanda Geduld

  23. 4 out of 5

    Sadie

  24. 4 out of 5

    Sam

  25. 4 out of 5

    Maria Carrig

  26. 5 out of 5

    Noor Ferdous

  27. 5 out of 5

    Tabetha

  28. 4 out of 5

    Benjamin

  29. 5 out of 5

    Andy

  30. 4 out of 5

    Karol

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