Rachel Willie. Staging the Revolution: Drama, Reinvention and History, 1647-72. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2015. xi, 242 p., 4 b/w ill. ISBN 9780719087639. UK £70.00 (hardcover).
Rachel Willie’s splendid study of theater in England from 1647 to 1672 opens with a tantalizing anecdote: in May 1645, Colonel Blunt of the parliamentarian army mounted a performance of the civil wars in order to redirect his troops’ energies from drink and disorder to acting the parts of Roundheads and Cavaliers. By all counts the men played their roles with gusto. The episode serves to introduce Willie’s central concern in Staging the Revolution – the way in which topical plays on both stage and page “recast the current moment, partly as a way to comment upon contemporary events and partly to rewrite [them]” (17).