“The Master and the Magician,” is a romp, a farce, a hotchpot of mistaken identity, physical buffoonery, vulgarity, rhymed couplets, alliterations and word play (e.g. “I must snare this hare before she becomes rabidly aware.”): a fractured fairy tale for adults culminates in an increasingly frenetic, farcical series of reversals.
To this end, the language of the play initially is straightforward and fairly naturalistic, but as the realm of magic becomes the locale of the action, the words also become more heightened and overtly poetic and playful (e.g. “I must snare this hare before she becomes rabidly aware.”). Yet beneath this seemingly light entertainment is a contemplation of class, gender roles, the nature of love and mortality itself.
Class is built into the very vocabulary of the characters as the noble Lovers employ a greater proportion of French derived words; the peasant Lovers use more Anglo-Saxon based words and the magical characters utilize Latinate words. The play uses the conventions and clichés of its faux medieval world (romantic love, divine right of kings, etc.) to both subvert those conventions in not only the world of the play, but more importantly, our own modern world.
(Click here for the postcard image from the 2008 Dramatists Guild Friday Night Footlights West play reading.)
Images above: Map of Medieval Paris and Old English Faerie Tales illustration – both public domain