Ralph Roister Doister
|Ralph Roister Doister|
|Written by||Nicholas Udall|
The date of its composition is disputed, but the balance of opinion suggests that it was written in about 1553, when Udall was a schoolmaster in London, and was intended to be performed by his pupils - who were all male, as were all actors at that period. However, the work was not published until 1567, eleven years after its author's death. It takes its theme from the Miles Gloriosus written by the Roman playwright Plautus.
The play is written in five acts. The plot of the play centres around a rich widow, Christian Custance, who is betrothed to Gawyn Goodluck, a merchant. Ralph Roister Doister is prompted by a friend to woo Christian Custance, but his pompous attempts do not succeed. Ralph then tries with his friends to break in and take Christian Custance by force, but they are defeated by her servants and run away. The merchant Gawyn arrives shortly after and the play concludes happily.
Gender politics is a very interesting aspect of this play, which was an innovative experiment in the field of English drama. The play is probably best described as a farce, and it owes something to the Latin playwrights Plautus and Terence.
- Angela O'Brien, RALPH ROISTER DOISTER: the first regular English comedy (2004)