The Novella proved much easier to follow along than A Mad Couple, though I think I am more confused by this, the second play in Brome’s works. At times The Novella seems to want to play with the structural similarities of comedy and tragedy; the errant letter trope, however, with which Brome produces effective comedy in A Mad Couple, and which Shakespeare uses to produce the tragedy of Romeo and Juliet, is stillborn in The Novella. At the same instant in which Flavia, summarising the contents of her letter aloud, declares her intention to throw herself to her death should her lover fail to meet her at the appointed time, Francisco reveals himself as the messenger in front of her (4.1). Not only does he hold the potentially errant letter in his hand, but having already arrived to take Flavia away, eliminates the need for a plan depending on fortuitous timing (and so also elimainates the tragic potential of the plan). It’s somewhat disappointing: maybe that’s the point. In Romeo and Juliet the play destroys all hopes of a comic ending (and there’s something satisfying in that). The Novella gives us the comic ending, and it’s sudden, underwhelming, and absurd.
Or it’s possibly not the best play in the Brome collection. Shall write of the amusing The Court Beggar next.
13 June 2009 ~ St. Catharines