Dramatic Realism, since its birth in the hectic late years of the nineteenth century, gave theatrical and thematic energy to the interaction between a play’s text and the way that it looked on the stage. Characters began to find themselves in rooms and settings that played an active and changing role in the drama, and their dialogue and reactions evolved in time with these changes. As life itself became more elaborate during the 20th Century, so these rooms were invaded and then defined by the outside world.
Fred Miller Robinson’s enjoyable and stimulating essays on this enduring genre tackle the dreams and anxieties of the middles classes of the Industrial Revolution – dreams of domestic comfort and refuge, and anxieties about how entrapping that comfort could be.
Moving from Ibsen to Chekhov and onwards into later plays in which the reality of ‘Realism’ comes under scrutiny, this is a book to dip into before a performance or to study during a class.