How would Milton Feel?

michelleazappa@gmail.com via richmond.edu

Thank you, Hugh for the review. I saw the production last night and overheard on exiting the theatre: "Milton's probably turning in his grave, the old sod. Well, serves him right". I'm interested in the comment about communicating the author's original point-of-view: what do you think Milton would have made of the production? Or is that the wrong question to be asking? Best, Michelle

Dear Michelle:
As I said in my review the idealism of many parts of Comus was often presented ironically in the performance - even the attempts at seduction were unconvincing. Much of the action was crude and brutal. As to exactly how Milton might have reacted to these elements of the performance, we get a clue from his reactions to similarly crude performances in his time at his own university:

From AN APOLOGY FOR SMECTYMNUUS.
In the colleges so many of the young divines, and those in next aptitude to divinity, have been seen so often upon the stage, writhing and unboning their clergy limbs to all the antic and dishonest gestures of Trinculoes, buffoons, and bawds; prostituting the shame of that ministry, which either they had, or were nigh having, to the eyes of courtiers and court ladies, with their grooms and mademoiselles. There while they acted and overacted, among other young scholars, I was a spectator; they thought themselves gallant men, and I thought them fools; they made sport, and I laughed; they mispronounced, and I misliked; and to make up the atticism, they were out, and I hissed.

Personally I thought the production worked in its own rather sardonic way, but it was not true to the script's basic serious tenor. I hope this helps. With best wishes, Hugh Richmond