Theatre

Alan Bennett: Plays 2 by Alan Bennett

By Alan Bennett

This moment quantity of performs via Alan Bennett contains his Kafka performs, one an hilarious comedy, the opposite a profound and looking drama. additionally integrated is An Englishman in a foreign country and a question of Attribution. The fascination of those performs lies within the approach they query our approved notions of treachery and, in several methods, make a sympathetic case for man Burgess and Anthony Blunt.

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Born in Arpinium many miles from the city of Rome, he has two patriae, one by birth and one through citizenship. Just as Ithaca was dear to Odysseus, so Cicero's germinal patria is very dear to him, with its rituals and the graves of his ancestors, yet the republic ( which by his day included over 900,000 voting citizens23) subsumes his birthplace and is even dearer. 24 It is hard for liberal westerners today to find more than empty or danger­ ous rhetoric in Cicero's declaration that he would not hesitate to give his life to serve his country, yet Cicero's public service did indeed cost him his life when Antony's assassins caught up with him, and countless common Roman men died during their mandatory sixteen years in the legions.

00 5) 329. 60 Wiles 6> The Mandrake Florence, Rome and Machiavelli young pious wife of the elderly Nicia. Disguised as a doctor he prescribes the mandrake root as a fertility drug, the side effect of which will be the death of the first man with whom Lucrezia sleeps. Cajoled by her mother and her confessor, Lucrezia consents, and discovers the joys of adulterous sex when Callimaco disguises himself as a vagrant, swept off the streets and supposedly consigned to his death. The play illustrates the philosophy behind that ends justify means.

The experience of standing in the pit in the reconstructed Shakespeare's Globe has been experienced as a revelation by many, for it makes theatre-goers more expressive and aware of their neighbours, with mental passivity impossible. Terence wrote at a moment when Romans had a stark choice: passivity in accepting luxurious fruits of conquest that included imported comedies, or remaining men of action. The post-Aristophanic form known as 'New Comedy' represents scenes of private life, and the genre implies, on the face of it, that citizenship and the Society ofthe Trowel Menander the young man is always a citizen while the innamorata is not, The Mandrake so long-term cohabitation may be possible, but there can be no production oflegitimate citizen children.

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