Monday, June 16, 2014

Review: The Roaring Girl

The Roaring Girl
The Roaring Girl by Thomas Dekker

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

It's fascinating to hear of a Jacobean play with a strong female lead who refuses to submit to her presumed role in society; one who, unlike Shakespeare's heroines, neither recants nor is ruined. But that's as good as it gets. The problem with 'The Roaring Girl' is that it's a weak play, written to cash in on the career of a contemporary celebrity. Imagine a 24th Century revival of 'Jordan: The Musical'.

Dekker and Middleton's prose is as difficult as Shakespeare's can be, but has none of the bard's sublime lyricism or glorious imagery. Often it's hard to work out what the characters are saying or where the plot is going, even though it's a simple, indeed simplistic, story.

The young Sebastian, frustrated by his father's refusal to sanction his marriage to Mary because her dowry is too small, persuades Moll, a notorious figure in the London underworld, to pretend to be his fiancée. The ploy is simple: seeing the unsuitable Moll, his father will decide that Mary isn't so bad after all and relent. And, after a half-baked attempt to lure Moll into theft (foiled by her steadfast virtue), that's what happens.

There's an amusing sub-plot of wives tricking their husbands, and we see the machinations of a rogue called Laxton, but the complexity of the language left me uncertain exactly what he was up to.

The Roaring Girl came from a golden age of British theatre, but then, Hermann's Hermits came from a golden age of British music. It didn't stop them being rubbish.

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