Old Play in Manhattan, Dec. 4, 1950

The Relapse (by Sir John Vanbrugh; produced by the Theatre Guild) reached Broadway just 254 years after it first opened in London. Among the last of the Restoration comedies, it was written to refute the first of the sentimental ones—Colley Cibber's Love's Last Shift.* Otherwise Vanbrugh wrote with small sense of purpose and merely to entertain. The play tells two barely contiguous stories: one—the frilly, mannered tale of Loveless' backsliding—is pure Restoration bawdry; the other—the lusty courtship of a panting, pent-up hoyden—is timeless low comedy. Morally, also, the play faces two ways. It seems utterly callous where Loveless sins with his...

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