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The Comedy of Marriage
Posted May 17, 2010 to photo album "The Comedy of Marriage"
In anticipation of the release of Lisa Cholodenko’s comedy The Kids Are All Right, FilmInFocus’ Peter Bowen and Nick Dawson look at works across multiple mediums that also poke fun at the institution of marriage.
Slide 1: The Country Wife (1675)
Restoration comedy, that strain of English drama that emerged after the “restoration” of Charles II and the re-opening of the theaters in England, often made marriage an institution for ridicule. These chatty, ribald comedies of marriage often focused on badly matched couples whose marital discontent more often than not slid into marital infidelity. William Wycherley’s 1675 The Country Wife became one of the most famous plays of its age both for its licentiousness and its wit. The play is a series of married scenes, connected in effect by Horner, a young rake who uses every trick he can to bed every wife he meets. The title character is Margery, a rural lass who has been married to an older man, Bud Pinchwife, who hopes her simple origins will keep her faithful (and not kind of wife the obscene allusion in the title suggests). Of course, Margery sleeps with Horner, Pinchwife is cuckolded, and the audience has a grand time laughing at the foibles of married folk. While the play was banned for most of the 19th century for being too salacious, it was revived in recent times. Recently, it inspired Hal Ashby’s 1975 comedy Shampoo and was restaged in 1992 as a musical Lust.