This is a good play that had a successful run at Drury Lane in 1728. In the following passage, the hero comments on his mistress's coolness toward him:
I do not see that fervour in the maid
Which youth and love should kindle. She consents,
As 'twere, to feed without an appetite;
Tells me she is content and plays the coy one,
Like those that subtly make their words their ward,
Keeping address at distance. This affection
Is such a feign'd one as will break untouched;
Die frosty ere it can be thawed; while mine,
Like to a clime beneath Hyperion's eye,
Burns with one constant heat.
If you like that, you'll probably like the show. Other reviewers have said the play is plainly not Shakespeare's. That's true. The theory is that Shakespeare and Fletcher did a play together, Fletcher doing most of the work, as in their other collaborations, THE TWO NOBLE KINSMEN and HENRY VIII. Later, that play was rewritten by Theobald, as he himself said. An excellent introduction of more than 100 pages lays out the whole theory and resulting modern controversy.
In other words, this play is an interesting find. It has become popular recently because many lines in it may be rewritten -- or even, possibly, untouched -- Shakespeare. But it's a good play in any case. Reviewers who say it's not are, I think, overly disappointed in its not seeming more Shakespearean than it does. Theobald, who did the rewrite, is one of England's first Shakespeare scholars, arguably the very first to take a modern approach to Shakespeare editing. That sound like reading a play by him would be fun, too. And it is.
Here's another passage. The hero's girl friend has said he should stop courting her, because his own father might not like her, and so be against her marrying his son. He replies,
O do not rack me with these ill-placed doubts,
Nor think though age has in my father's breast
Put out love's flame, he therefore has not eyes,
Or is in judgement blind. You wrong your beauties.
Venus will frown if you disprize her gifts
That have a face would make a frozen hermit
Leap from his cell and burn his beads to kiss it,
Eyes, that are nothing but continual births
Of new desires in those that view their beams.
You cannot have a cause to doubt.
The notes on this passage go thoroughly into how much seems to come from 1728 and how much resembles some of Shakespeare's phrasing. It's a game anyone can play and no one can win, but in any case the passage, I think, is charming.
I like the idea of reading a good, successful play from 1728 with four notes a page covering, among other things, how many passages might be rewritten Shakespeare or rewritten Fletcher, and how many are 1728 business as usual. I'm puzzled at anyone who would give such a pleasant read one star because it appears in the Arden Shakespeare. It's good stuff no matter where it appears.