John Marston: What You Will (1330 words)

Rebecca Yearling (University of Keele)
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What You Will is a comedy written by John Marston in around 1601, and first published in 1607. It was written to be performed by a boy acting company at a private, indoor theatre—probably St Paul’s playhouse—as is clear from the references in the induction to the need for candles to illuminate the theatre and to the fact that “the stage is so very little” (Induction 94).

The play begins with an induction featuring three actors playing the part of theatregoers: Philomuse, Doricus and Atticus. Philomuse describes the play which is to follow. It is, he says, neither entirely “comedy, tragedy, pastoral, moral, nocturnal or history”, but rather an amalgam of all these things: “what you will, a slight toy,…

Citation: Yearling, Rebecca. "What You Will". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 05 August 2015 [, accessed 18 June 2021.]

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