The Malcontent: Antonio and Mellida, Antonio's Revenge, Dutch Courtesan, Sophonisba by John Marston
John Marston is one of the most most misunderstood playwrights of the Elizabethan/Jacobean period. This edition brings together Marston's five major plays in one volume. Antonio and Mellida, printed in 1602, is a revenge story in which a father and son are exiled from their dukedom by the violent usurper Piero; Antonio loves Piero's daughter, Mellida, and risks a visit to her at her father's court in disguise - with surprising consequences. But the play's joyful conclusion is countered by the ferociously brutal sequel, Antonio's Revenge, a tragedy of moral relativism, and the darkest of Marston's plays. The Malcontent (1604), a bitter satire resembling Measure for Measure, depicts an Italianate world of court depravity in which banished Altofronto delights in role-play, disguised as the malcontent Malevole and exposing corruption, lust and greed. The Dutch Courtesan (1605), an early version of a new dramatic genre, the satirical London comedy, is a play about sex and self-discipline. Sophonisba (1606) is an uncharacteristically austere tragedy of martyrdom and moral absolutism, admired by T.S. Eliot for its underlying serenity. This edition provides a critical introduction based on an informed understanding of the texts as scripts for the stage.