Although it was written shortly before or after Queen Elizabeth's death
in 1603 and performed by the boy company at Blackfriars, this play
foreshadows the light ladies and callous gallants of Restoration
comedy. Passion is a scourge, love is humiliation, and friends might as
well be enemies. Freevill discards his concubine Franceschina and, for
a joke, sets his straight-laced friend Malheureux on to her, who falls
for her and promises to carry out her revenge on Freevill by killing
him. The play in the theatre, which is fully imagined in the
introduction to this edition, impresses on the audience the
spuriousness of rigid moral persuasions, especially when they are tried
by fits of sexual passion.
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