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English Drama 1660–1700$
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Derek Hughes

Print publication date: 1996

Print ISBN-13: 9780198119746

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198119746.001.0001

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‘Dire is the Dearth and Famine on the Stage’: Drama, 1682–1688  

‘Dire is the Dearth and Famine on the Stage’: Drama, 1682–1688  

(p.307) Chapter Eight ‘Dire is the Dearth and Famine on the Stage’: Drama, 1682–1688 
English Drama 1660–1700

Derek Hughes

Oxford University Press

In November 1682 the ailing King's Company merged with the more adventurously and expertly managed Duke's, and for the next thirteen years the London stage became a monopoly. The absence of commercial rivalry induced an unenterprising reliance upon stock plays, and new plays for a while became scarce and unadventurous. Most comedies, for example, are farcical or lightweight, and in the period up to the end of the 1688 season only four plays (Nathaniel Lee's The Princess of Cleve, Thomas Otway's The Atheist, Aphra Behn's The Lucky Chance, and Charles Sedley's Bellamira) provide a serious and exploratory treatment of human sexuality. The Tory triumph turned hitherto ambivalent dramatists into partisans and thereby assisted the decline of tragedy. With The Duke of Guise and Constantine the Great, John Dryden and Lee make their last, and least distinguished, contributions to Exclusion Crisis drama.

Keywords:   London stage, sexuality, plays, Nathaniel Lee, Thomas Otway, Aphra Behn, Charles Sedley, John Dryden, Exclusion Crisis, drama

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