Abridging Walpole’s The Mysterious Mother

Having been the one who abridged Walpole’s five-act semi-Shakespearian play down to a c.45-50 minute running time for this staged reading, I was amazed at the underlying economy of Walpole’s dramatic writing. Those familiar with his Castle of Otranto will no doubt share a sense of that novel’s flat characterization but here his characters are expressive, singular, readily identifiable and distinguishable.  We were fortunate to have such good players for Benedict and Martin, bringing out the friars’ dedicated manipulation of a situation they had readily recognized for what it was and then deliberately utilized for their own ends.  In lots of ways, it was their show.  How brutally gentle Walpole’s anti-Catholic, anti-French, aims were delivered. 


David Worrall

Professor David Worrall is an Emeritus Professor of English and continues to carry out research in Romantic period studies. He is the author of Celebrity Performance, Reception: British Georgian Drama as Social Assemblage (Cambridge UP 2013), The Politics of Romantic Theatricality: The Road to the Stage (Palgrave 2007), Harlequin Empire: Race, Ethnicity and the Drama of the Popular Enlightenment (Pickering and Chatto 2007), and Theatric Revolution: Drama, Censorship and Romantic Period Subcultures (Oxford 2006).