‘The freedoms of the present’: Comedy, 1668–1676
Until the mid-1670s, tragedy was the more radical genre than comedy. If comic dramatists in the years immediately following 1668 were slow to imitate George Etherege and John Dryden, they were not content simply to adore the ancient glories of the gentry. What is most noticeable in the years from 1668 to 1672 is a sustained attempt at both theatres to absorb and Anglicize Molière. The series of close Molière adaptations is suddenly suspended in late 1672, when the movement towards a sex comedy of contemporary English life received new impetus from two Duke's Company plays: Henry Neville Payne's The Morning Ramble; or, The Town-Humours and Thomas Shadwell's Epsom-Wells, the first clearly indebted to The Comical Revenge and the second to She Would If She Could.
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