Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest is subtitled "A Trivial Comedy for Serious People," and has proved immensely popular since its first performance in 1895. The play certainly has its farcical and comic elements, such as the witty banter exchanged by the characters and the flippant attitude towards love and marriage that characterizes the action. However, the play also explores more serious themes through the central story of Jack Worthing's search for his identity.
First performed in classical Athens c. 411 B.C.E., Aristophanes’ “Lysistrata” is the original battle of the sexes. One woman, Lysistrata, brings together the women of all Greece, exhorting them to withhold sexual contact from all men in order that they negotiate a treaty. Double entendres abound as men of Greece attempt to keep Lysistrata and her prurient gang from putting an end to the Peloponnesian war. Notably risqué, this comic drama sheds light on gender relations in ancient Athens.
The women of Athens are sick of the Peloponnesian war that has dragged on for year after year after year, causing great hardship to everyone. They decide to deny the men sex until they agree to make peace, using the one thing that perhaps men enjoy more than killing each other. Does it work? Listen and find out. This comedy by Aristophanes was first performed in 411 BC
Shaw, George Bernard
Arms and the Man is a comedy by George Bernard Shaw that takes place in 1885, during the Serbo-Bulgarian War. Raina Petkoff is engaged to the gallant Sergius Saranoff, hero of the recent Bulgarian victory over the Serbs. But she is distracted by the abrupt arrival of Captain Bluntschli, a Swiss mercenary who fought for the Serbian army. He takes refuge in her bedroom after the battle and although he is initially threatening, reveals that he carries chocolate creams instead of bullets. Will Raina marry the posturing Sergius or the chocolate cream soldier? Extra intrigue is provided by saucy servant girl Louka, her dour fiance Nicola, and Raina's hand-wringing parents.
Uncle Vanya (subtitled “Scenes From Country Life”) is a tragicomedy by Anton Chekhov. It is set on the failing country estate of a retired professor, Serebrakoff, who returns after a long absence with his beautiful young wife, and throws the household into confusion. Rivalry, unrequited love, illicit romance, and attempted suicide are the result, punctuated throughout by Chekhov’s sad, wistful humor.
The play features three interlocking plots, connected by a celebration of the wedding of Theseus of Athens and the Amazon queen, Hippolyta, which is set simultaneously in the woodland and in the realm of Fairyland, under the light of the moon.
An Ideal Husband is an 1895 comedy by Oscar Wilde which revolves around blackmail and political corruption, and touches on the themes of public and private honor. The action is set in London, in "the present", and takes place within a single day. "Sooner or later," Wilde notes, "we shall all have to pay for what we do." But he adds that, "No one should be entirely judged by their past."
The Cherry Orchard is Russian playwright Anton Chekhov's last play. It premiered at the Moscow Art Theatre 17 January 1904 in a production directed by Constantin Stanislavski. Chekhov intended this play as a comedy and it does contain some elements of farce; however, Stanislavski insisted on directing the play as a tragedy. Since this initial production, directors have had to contend with the dual nature of this play.
The play concerns an aristocratic Russian woman and her family as they return to the family's estate (which includes a large and well-known cherry orchard) just before it is auctioned to pay the mortgage. The story presents themes of cultural futility — both the futility of the aristocracy to maintain its status and the futility of the bourgeoisie to find meaning in its newfound materialism. In reflecting the socio-economic forces at work in Russia at the turn of the 20th century, including the rise of the middle class after the abolition of serfdom in the mid-19th century and the sinking of the aristocracy, the play reflects forces at work around the globe in that period.
William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice was probably written between 1596 and 1598, and was printed with the comedies in the First Folio of 1623. Bassanio, an impoverished gentleman, uses the credit of his friend, the merchant Antonio, to borrow money from a wealthy Jew, Shylock. Antonio pledges to pay Shylock a pound of flesh if he defaults on the loan, which Bassanio will use to woo a rich heiress, Portia. A subplot concerns the elopement of Shylock's daughter Jessica with a Christian, Bassanio's friend Lorenzo. In its focus on love and marriage, the play shares certain concerns with Shakespeare's other comedies. Yet its depiction of the tensions between Jews and Christians in early modern Venice - and its highly dramatic trial scene in Act 4 - create darker currents in the play.
A dramatization of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass for the stage. In this version, Alice goes through the looking glass and encounters a variety of strange and wonderful creatures from favorite scenes of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland the Through the Looking Glass. Including a conversation with the Red and White Queens, encounters with Humpty Dumpty, the Mock Turtle, the Cheshire Cat, and the Caterpillar, and of course everyone's favorite Mad Tea Party.
The Miser is a comedy of manners about a rich moneylender named Harpagon. His feisty children long to escape from his penny-pinching household and marry their respective lovers. Although the 17th-century French upper classes presumably objected to the play's message, it is less savage and somewhat less realistic than Molière's earlier play, Tartuffe, which attracted a storm of criticism on its first performance.
Gilbert, W. S.
The Pirates of Penzance; or, The Slave of Duty is a comic opera in two acts, with music by Arthur Sullivan and libretto by W. S. Gilbert. The story concerns Frederic, who, having completed his 21st year, is released from his apprenticeship to a band of tender-hearted pirates. He meets Mabel, the daughter of Major-General Stanley, and the two young people fall instantly in love. Frederic finds out, however, that he was born on 29 February, and so, technically, he only has a birthday each leap year. His apprenticeship indentures state that he remains apprenticed to the pirates until his 21st birthday, and so he must serve for another 63 years. Bound by his own sense of duty, Frederic's only solace is that Mabel agrees to wait for him faithfully.
W. S. Gilbert
In typical Gilbert and Sullivan "Topsy Turvy" style, the King of Barataria has gone missing! He was stolen as a baby and raised in secrecy as one of two gondoliers (nobody knows which) and his wife would like very much to know where he is! The Grand Inquisitor appears in Venice to take both Gondoliers to a life of luxury and rulership - but is dismayed to discover that both are reluctant to leave their wives behind. Somehow two husbands have managed to acquire three wives, and nobody is happy at the idea of marrying a vulgar fraction!
This is a spoken "poetic" version of the libretto written by W. S. Gilbert, where a full cast of voices brings the sparkling wit of Gilbert to the fore, and will enhance understanding and appreciation of this comic light opera.
This is a lovely comedy about the theft of a prostitute's purse by a rich 'young man of good family. It is placed beside the theft of a silver cigarette case from the rich man's father's house by 'a poor devil', with very different repercussions.
Shaw, George Bernard
The Doctor's Dilemma is about Dr. Colenso Ridgeon, who has recently been knighted because of a miraculous new treatment he developed for tuberculosis. As his friends arrive to congratulate him on his success, he is visited by two figures who present him with a difficult decision. He has room for one more patient in his clinic; should he give it to Louis Dubedat, a brilliant but absolutely immoral artist, or Dr. Blenkinsop, a poor and rather ordinary physician who is a truly good person? Dr. Ridgeon's dilemma is heightened when he falls for Jennifer Dubedat, the artist's wife, who is innocent of her husband's profligacy.
A rich heiress pretending to be in love with her guardian, but with several other suitors. A jealous merchant from Spain with a beautiful but cloistered daughter. A Busy Body who tries to know everybody else's business. Conniving servants. Plot elements stolen - and improved - from Moliere, Johnson, and Dryden. Definitely comedy, and written by a very successful woman playwright.
Mackaye, Mary Keith Medbery
Pride and Prejudice, a comedy of manners and marriage, is the most famous of Jane Austen's novels. In this dramatic adaption by Mary Keith Medbery Macakaye some liberties are taken with the storyline and characters, but it is still a fun listen or read. Perhaps a good introduction for someone not ready to tackle the complete novel ~ and for the reader familiar with the work, a laugh can be had at the changes that were made in order to adapt it to the stage
"Chremes and Demipho are two aged Athenians, brothers. Nausistrata, the wife of Chremes, is a wealthy woman, possessed of large estates in the island of Lemnos. Chremes, who goes thither yearly to receive the rents, meets with a poor woman there, whom he secretly marries, and has by her a daughter called Phanium: while engaged in this intrigue, Chremes passes at Lemnos by the name of Stilpho. By his wife, Nausistrata, at Athens, Chremes has a son, named Phædria, and his brother has a son, named Antipho." Got all that? And so now, "Phanium having now arrived at her fifteenth year, the two brothers privately agree that she shall be brought to Athens and married to Antipho."
Nicolai (anglicised Nicholas in this translation) Ivanov, a middle-aged public servant, is unhappy. His wife Anna, disinherited by her family after converting from Judaism, is dying of tuberculosis. He is deeply in debt. And his best friend’s daughter is infatuated with him. Comedy and tragedy ensue in truly Chekhovian fashion. An example of the young Chekhov’s maturing style, Ivanov is an early harbinger of themes that would recur throughout his work.
Lysistrata has had enough. She is tired of the constant war that is ravaging Greece and has come up with a solution: Together with female friends from other Greek cities, she persuades all women of Greece to pledge an oath and refrain from all sexual contact with their husbands and lovers. The idea is that what men really want is sex, and that they are willing to do anything to get it - even abandoning their pride and make peace. And while the Athenian women retreat into the sacred Acropolis, the men gather outside and debate what is to be done...
This famous play by Aristophanes, first staged in 411 BCE, sheds a light on the relation of the sexes in Ancient Greece, and is probably the first instance of a War of the Sexes.
The translator of this version is unknown, but it is rumored to have been Oscar Wilde.
Davis, Richard Harding
Miss Civilization, a one act comedy, tells the story of a young woman who matches wits with three burglars attempting to rob her house. This recording was made in Chicago at the LibriVox World Gathering in May 2007.
The Comedy of Errors is one of William Shakespeare's earliest plays, believed to have been written between 1592 and 1594. It is his shortest and one of his most farcical comedies, with a major part of the humour coming from slapstick and mistaken identity, in addition to puns and word play. The Comedy of Errors tells the story of two sets of identical twins that were accidentally separated at birth. Antipholus of Syracuse and his servant, Dromio of Syracuse, arrive in Ephesus, which turns out to be the home of their twin brothers, Antipholus of Ephesus and his servant, Dromio of Ephesus. When the Syracusans encounter the friends and families of their twins, a series of wild mishaps based on mistaken identities lead to wrongful beatings, a near-seduction, the arrest of Antipholus of Ephesus, and accusations of infidelity, theft, madness, and demonic possession.
A Restoration farce by a successful woman playwright. "Doctor Baliardo, a Neapolitan philosopher, has so applied himself to the study of the Moon, and is enraptured to such an extent with the mysteries of that orb, that he has come steadfastly to believe in a lunar world, peopled, ruled and regulated like the earth. This wholly fills and absorbs his every waking thought, and, in consequence, he denies his daughter Elaria and his niece Bellemante to their respective lovers, the Viceroy’s two nephews, Don Cinthio and Don Charmante, as being men of mere terrestial mould."
A. A. Milne
Come, join us on a lovely April afternoon in Devonshire for a breezy frolic in comedy. Milne's light-hearted romance is sure to make you chuckle.
W. Somerset Maugham
Lady Frederick is a comedy by the British writer W. Somerset Maugham, written early in his career. The play was first seen in London in 1907, and was very successful, running for 422 performances. The title role was played by Ethel Irving. In New York it was first performed in 1908, with Lady Frederick played by Ethel Barrymore, who reprised her role in the play's film adaptation, The Divorcee.In the play, Lady Frederick is an Irish widow, seriously in debt; she must deal with suitors who have various motives for proposing marriage, and with the man with whom she once had an affair.
First produced between 1684-1688, this - as the title says - is Faust played as a comedy. Angels to go along with Mephistopholis and Lucifer and Beelzebub, sure, but also the Seven Deadly Sins and wait a minute - Scaramouche and Harlequin?? (The author Mountfort was also an actor and was killed trying to prevent an attempt to kidnap an actress in a case that ended up in the House of Lords.)
Shaw, George Bernard
The Admirable Bashville is a product of the British law of copyright. As that law stands at present, the first person who patches up a stage version of a novel, however worthless and absurd that version may be, and has it read by himself and a few confederates to another confederate who has paid for admission in a hall licensed for theatrical performances, secures the stage rights of that novel, even as against the author himself; and the author must buy him out before he can touch his own work for the purposes of the stage...As a good Socialist I do not at all object to the limitation of my right of property in my own works to a comparatively brief period, followed by complete Communism: in fact, I cannot see why the same salutary limitation should not be applied to all property rights whatsoever; but a system which enables any alert sharper to acquire property rights in my stories as against myself and the rest of the community would, it seems to me, justify a rebellion if authors were numerous and warlike enough to make one."
By the author of Cyrano de Bergerac, this comic-romance formed the basis for the long-running 1960's musical "The Fantasticks".
The Mastersons, a wealthy Bostonian family, await the arrival of their cousin Anna in the wake of her grandfather's death. Though born in Boston, Anna, who prefers the name Oceana, spent most of her life on a tropical island in the Pacific with her father. A free spirit, her practices and values surrounding proper dress, romance, and entertainment clash with those of her conservative relatives. What will happen as patience and tolerance wear thin for both parties when alluring Oceana catches the eye of a married man?
Upton Sinclair, though best known for his novel The Jungle, an expose of the meatpacking industry, was also a playwright whose works for the stage reflect the same progressive viewpoints found in his other writing. Published as part of the collection Plays of Protest in 1912, this play was heavily influenced by the character of "Nature Man," an American hippie in Tahiti, from Jack London's book The Cruise of the Snark.
James Sheridan Knowles
In this romantic comedy from 1837, three sets of mismatched lovers bicker, woo, spar, and scheme on their way to matrimonial bliss. James Sheridan Knowles, a cousin of Richard Brinsley Sheridan, seems to take a great deal of inspiration from Shakespeare’s “Much Ado About Nothing.” The humor of the piece derives from witty banter and miscommunication as the couples engage in their “steeple-chase of love.” Who will end up at the altar with who?
Mollentrave has written a “Love Doctor” book for men entitled “Mollentrave on Women” which purports to give any man the “Midas Touch” with the fairer sex.But as King Midas could’ve told us, these things have a way of backfiring…
George Bernard Shaw
Candida, a comedy by playwright George Bernard Shaw, was first published in 1898, as part of his Plays Pleasant. The central characters are clergyman James Morell, his wife Candida and a youthful poet, Eugene Marchbanks, who tries to win Candida's affections. The play questions Victorian notions of love and marriage, asking what a woman really desires from her husband. The cleric is a Fabian Socialist, allowing Shaw—himself a Fabian—to weave political issues, current at the time, into the story.
Athens is in a sorry state of affairs. The great tragedian, Euripides, is dead, and Dionysus, the god of the theater, has to listen to third-rate poetry. So, he determines to pack his belongings onto his trusty slave, Xanthias, and journey to the underworld to bring back Euripides! Hi-jinks ensue.
A small play in three acts. A kind of comic tragedy. The plot tells the story of the interaction between two very different families in rural England just after the end of the First World War. Squire Hillcrist lives in the manor house where his family has lived for generations. He has a daughter, Jill, who is in her late teens; and a wife, Amy, as well as servants and retainers. He is "old money", although his finances are at a bit of low ebb. The other family is the "nouveau riche" Hornblowers, headed by the single-minded and rich industrialist Hornblower, who throws old retainers the Jackmans out of their home (much to the Squire's disgust), and who plans to surround the Hillcrist's rural estate with factories.
This is Thomas Holcroft's English translation, obtained by attending Pierre Beaumarchais' French play nine times in Paris during its original official staging in 1784. Beaumarchais' play was the basis for Mozart's 1796 opera, and is a satire about lovers' misdoings and French society. Because of its rebellious themes, presented during the troubling times leading up to the French Revolution, Beaumarchais had a very difficult time getting his play past the censors. Once staged, the play was enormously popular with audiences, including the aristocracy despite their understanding of the underlying themes. It was shocking that an commoner could contend directly with a nobleman. Louis XVI was not amused with Beaumarchais and imprisoned him for a few days. In our play, staged in London in 1785, Figaro is engaged to be married to Susan, who has caught the eye of Count Almaviva . . . (Holcroft Anglicized Suzanne's name so that English audiences would better accept her.) The Marriage is part of a trilogy, following The Barber of Seville and preceding The Guilty Mother.
Few plays have been seen as a more fitting conclusion to a playwright's career than Shakespeare's The Tempest. Focusing on the aging sorcerer and rightful Duke of Milan, Prospero, we are transported to a remote island where magic and strange music fill the air, and the monstrous slave Caliban roams in bitterness. Seeing an opportunity to restore his slandered name, Prospero conjures a mighty storm to bring down a ship containing his wicked brother and the King of Naples, both of whom had driven him out of Milan twelve years before. By stranding them on a remote end of the island, and with the help of the airy spirit Ariel, Prospero sets out to right the wrongs that had been done to him, before renouncing his magic forever. Featuring some of the most powerful speeches in Shakespeare's canon, and with an incredible grasp on tone and the Neoclassical unities of time, place and action, The Tempest remains a formidable and moving farewell to both the Bard and the timeless works he left behind.
The "Ideal Husband" of the title is Sir Robert Chiltern, with his equally upright wife Lady Chiltern. He has never committed a crime, never had a "past" and never bowed to corruption or influence, or so she thinks... The disreputable Mrs Cheveley is about to appear and try her hand at both politics and blackmail - can the Chilterns come through the encounter with both public and private honour intact? And what about Miss Mabel Chiltern's roguish beau, Lord Goring? What does he have to do with all of this?
Oscar Wilde's witty comedy of manners, trust and politics shows human nature in a typically merciless light. The main themes are blackmail, political corruption and the uses and abuses of power both in politics and in private life. Quote from the play: “It takes great deal of courage to see the world in all its tainted glory, and still to love it.”
Perhaps the most controversial of Shakespeare's comedies, The Merchant of Venice tells the tale of a man, Bassanio, who has a crazy plan to woo the heiress, Portia, with money borrowed off an old Jewish money lender, Shylock. However, when the money isn't repaid soon enough, his friend Antonio, the titular Merchant of Venice, may have to pay the ultimate price for Bassanio's big ideas. With a court case in session, it will be up for the play's heroines to sort out the mess caused by their husbands-to-be.
F. Scott Fitzgerald
"Porcelain and Pink" is a comic one-act play from the 1922 short story collection Tales of the Jazz Age. The plot involves a young woman in a bathtub and a case of mistaken identity.
Volpone is a comedy by Ben Jonson first produced in 1606, drawing on elements of city comedy and beast fable. A merciless satire of greed and lust, it remains Jonson's most-performed play, and it is among the finest Jacobean Era comedies. Volpone is a Venetian gentleman who pretends to be on his deathbed, after a long illness, in order to dupe Voltore, Corbaccio, and Corvino, three men who aspire to inherit his fortune. In their turns, each man arrives to Volpone’s house bearing a luxurious gift, intent upon having his name inscribed to the will of Volpone, as his heir. Mosca, Volpone’s parasite servant, encourages each man, Voltore, Corbaccio, and Corvino, to believe that he has been named heir to Volpone’s fortune; in the course of which, Mosca persuades Corbaccio to disinherit his own son in favour of Volpone.
Written around the middle of his career, Much Ado About Nothing is one of Shakespeare's great festive comedies. The men are back from the war, and everyone is ready for romance. The dashing young Claudio falls for Hero, the daughter of Leonato, governor of Messina, and his friend Don Pedro helps him secure her affection. These youthful lovers are contrasted with the more experienced (and more cynical) Benedick and Beatrice, who have to be tricked into falling in love. Don Pedro's bastard brother, Don John, provides the intrigue, and the dimwitted constable Dogberry provides the laughs.
"We have such a gallery, if not of great characters, at any rate of strongly-marked acting parts, as could not but ensure the success of the play... The plot was clear and simple, the action coherent and continuous, there is nothing to surprise us in the instantaneous triumph of Love for Love."
Shaw, George Bernard
George Bernard Shaw's Major Barbara focuses on the family of aristocratic Lady Britomart Undershaft and her estranged husband Andrew, a millionaire armaments manufacturer. Their daughters Sarah and Barbara are both engaged to be married, and Lady Britomart decides to ask Andrew for monetary support. Barbara is a Major in the Salvation Army, and agrees to let her father visit the mission in the East End of London where she works. In exchange, she agrees to visit his munitions factory. The conflict between Barbara's philanthropic idealism and her father's hard-headed capitalism clash when he decides he wants to fund the Salvation Army. Shaw's comedy, as always, delves into political and social issues of the period, and provides a roster of finely- and humorously-drawn characters.
The Comedy of Errors tells the story of two sets of identical twins that were accidentally separated at birth. Antipholus of Syracuse and his servant, Dromio of Syracuse, arrive in Ephesus, which turns out to be the home of their twin brothers, Antipholus of Ephesus and his servant, Dromio of Ephesus. When the Syracusans encounter the friends and families of their twins, a series of wild mishaps based on mistaken identities lead to wrongful beatings, a near-seduction, the arrest of Antipholus of Ephesus, and false accusations of infidelity, theft, madness, and demonic possession..
Long theorized to be one of Shakespeare's mid-career works, As You Like It remains an evergreen favorite for audiences and scholars alike for its sparkling characters, pastoral setting, gorgeous prose and entertaining storylines that converge in fun and surprising ways. When several characters, including an elderly French duke, his headstrong daughter Rosalind, and Rosalind's handsome love interest Orlando, are forced to flee the kingdom and take refuge in the neighboring Forest of Arden, their adventures therein lead to a series of amusing encounters and mix-ups. Genders are reversed, courtships are developed, attractions are left unrequited, and the action reflected upon by the likes of witty fools and discontented courtiers. Who will end up with whom? Who will be left in the lurch? And will the pastoral chaos in Arden reach a satisfying resolution? You'll have to listen to find out!
Richard Brinsley Sheridan
The play is set in Bath in the 18th century, a town legendary for conspicuous consumption and fashion at the time. Wealthy, fashionable people went there to "take the waters", which were believed to have healing properties. The plot centres on the two young lovers, Lydia and Jack. Lydia, who reads a lot of popular novels of the time, wants a purely romantic love affair. To court her, Jack pretends to be "Ensign Beverley", a poor officer. Lydia is enthralled with the idea of eloping with a poor soldier in spite of her guardian, Mrs. Malaprop, a moralistic widow. Mrs. Malaprop is the chief comic figure of the play, thanks to her continual misuse of words that sound like the words she intends but mean something completely different. (The term malapropism was coined in reference to the character.) Lydia has two other suitors: Bob Acres (a somewhat buffoonish country gentleman), and Sir Lucius O'Trigger, an impoverished and combative Irish gentleman. Sir Lucius pays Lucy to carry love notes between him and Lydia (who uses the name "Delia"), but Lucy is swindling him: "Delia" is actually Mrs. Malaprop.
The Taming of the Shrew is one of Shakespeare's earliest comedies, and was inspired by classical Roman comedy and the Italian commedia dell'arte. Baptista Minola, a rich gentleman of Padua, has two daughters: Katherina, renowned for her sharp tongue, and Bianca, who is sought after by multiple suitors. Baptista decides that Bianca cannot marry until her elder sister finds a husband. Enter Petruchio, who has come to "wive it wealthily in Padua," and who is convinced by Bianca's suitors to woo Katherina. The play ultimately poses the question of who is the bigger shrew: Kate or Petruchio. The subplot involves the subterfuge employed by Lucentio to woo the lovely Bianca.
One of the most notorious Restoration comedies in existence, William Wycherley’s The Country Wife is a lively and riotous exploration of courtly and city life in the seventeenth century, which was rife with unremitting sexual intrigue and conquest. For the basis of his plot, Wycherley here borrows heavily from the work of Molière, but abandons the French master’s unity and economy by introducing several interlocking storylines and characters, all of them clamoring for attention amidst Wycherley’s hard-hitting colloquial dialogue and double entendres. The main plot follows the clever town rake Horner, who feigns impotence in order to seduce women of quality and cuckold their unwitting husbands. One woman who takes interest in him is Margery, a seemingly naive country girl married to the pathologically jealous Pinchwife. Her desire to pursue an illicit affair with Horner yields a multitude of complications and misunderstandings, many of which are left scandalously unresolved by the time the final line is spoken.
With startlingly frank explorations of gender dynamics, marital structures, female autonomy, misogyny, and seventeenth-century societal obligations, as well as an infamous “china scene” positively dripping with innuendo, The Country Wife remains a classic of its genre that continues to invite fresh and exciting interpretations with each new performance.
Measure for Measure is one of William Shakespeare's more enigmatic works. As one of the so-called "problem plays," it mixes a dark plot with light overtones, without resolving the tensions inherent in either. Its central conflict is spurred on when the Duke of Vienna, Vincentio, confers his powers on the law-abiding judge Angelo before leaving on a diplomatic mission. In reality, Vincentio has merely disguised himself as a lowly friar to watch Angelo's rule from afar—a rule that is quickly characterized by its overzealous cruelty and harshness. When Angelo has a man condemned to death for fornication, the man's sister, a pious novitiate named Isabella, intercedes on his behalf and begs Angelo for leniency. It is through this encounter that Angelo's true self emerges, as well as the play's presiding themes of moral justice, civil corruption, and the neverending conflict between the powers of sin and virtue. Can Isabella thwart Angelo's wicked intentions? Will the Duke restore peace and sanity in Vienna? Will compassion prevail? Take a listen, for all will be revealed.