Dr. Ralph's Brief
1. When was the play first performed?
Probably in 1622.
2. Where was the play first performed?
At the Blackfriars.
3. Who wrote it?
John Fletcher and Philip Massinger. These two men succeeded William Shakespeare as chief playwrights for the King’s Men – Fletcher until his death in 1625 and Massinger until his death in 1640 (two years before the theatres closed). Both men are buried at Southwark Cathedral where you can see their stones adjacent to one another in the choir stalls. The ASC has so far produced eight plays authored or co-authored by John Fletcher.
4. How are these playwrights like Shakespeare?
Like Shakespeare they did not feel confined by the strictures of classical drama about time, setting, and genre. Their plays range freely through geography and are cavalier about the passage of time. They relish a mix of the comic and the tragic.
5. How are these playwrights unlike Shakespeare?
They work harder on the plot and seem to be more comfortable with the bizarre. Story and situation drive their plays, and their characters do and say (extremely well) the things the plot needs them to do and say.
6. What do scholars think about this play?
The Sea Voyage bears a number of similarities to The Tempest (which you can see for yourself this Renaissance Season), and scholars have been interested in the issues of colonialism the two plays share. Until recently the outlandishness of The Sea Voyage seems to have forestalled much critical attention, but increased interest in the playwrights of the period not named Shakespeare has raised its stock. Before this show, the only contemporary production of the play we know of was in 2013/14 by Roving Shakespeare, Mary Baldwin College’s first MFA Company.
7. Does any controversy surround the work?
Not yet, but you could start a cottage industry out of the sensational material in a play, including pirates, cannibalism, and a world wholly ruled by women in which men are meant only to help with procreation.
8. What characters should I especially look for?
Albert, the French pirate, of course, and the three stooges who accompany him, but Rosellia the Queen of the Amazons is a wonderfully fierce creation.
9. What scene should I especially look for?
The scene in which the three stooges prepare to eat our heroine, Aminta, is comedy of a special sort.
10. What is the language like?
Sharp and humorous.