I wanted to write something about the writing of The Libertine. A collective of my favourite lines and monologues, because the writing is truly beautiful. The Libertine is based on the true life of John Wilmot, the earl of Rochester, and his relations with the actress Lizzie Barry.
Mrs Barry: I want the passionate love of my audience. I want, when I make a sweep of my arm, to carry their hearts away, and when I die that they should sigh for never seeing me again.
Mrs Barry is asked what she wants from the theatre, and she retorts very passionately, almost in a daze with this line.
Rochester: I cannot feel in life, I must have others do it for me here
Mrs Barry: You are spoken of as a man with a stomach for life
These lines I feel, don’t need a caption. They are melancholic.
Rochester: But in the playhouse, every action good or bad has its consequences; drop a handkerchief and it will return to smother you. Outside the playhouse there are for me no crimes and no consequences.
I liked this bit, because I felt it showed the true tragedy of a man who has lost his love of life, who can do whatever he wishes. It showed the truth of the theatre. Everything has meaning, everything has consequence.
Rochester: Here in this Theatre we can pretend that our lives have meaning…. The theatre is my soothing drug, and my cynic’s illness is so far advanced that my physic must be of the highest quality.
This just has so much truth to it. To anyone, theatre people or not.
Mrs. Barry: You gave a divine talent. And yet you choose to see only what is base and mean. You are one-eyes. You look at humanity and you see the monkey, but you close your eye to the angel. When I am on stage, I give wing to the angel, I let her soar over the rowdy Pit creatures until I have silenced them with the flapping of her wings. That is why they have begun to listen to me. Because they leave the theatre with a larger idea of themselves and they become more noble in their daily lives. You show them to be a scrawny monkey in a shabby coat who shits and mounts its mate and they go on their way meaner.
This monologue is beautiful, revealing of what truly happens when the audience leaves a theatre. Of the effect Theatre has.
Rochester: I love theatres. They remind me of ships, great rocking galleons floating into battle.
Because society and life is a battle. And the theatre is your weapon
Etherege: Love gilds us over and makes us show fine things to each other for a time, but soon the gold wears off and then again the native brass appears.
Love is nothing but an illusion, designed to lure the human spirit out of it’s hard exterior.
Rochester: I am nature and you are art, let us see how we compare
Art imitates life, and life imitates Art.
Rochester: When I poured away the last bottle of wine I saw the blood of christ streaming onto the floor and it took all my effort not to throw myself on my face and guzzle. But I desisted and my mind cleared and I made an inventory of my life and found much wanting: injuries to divers people: want of attention to my affairs: a lifetime spitting in the face of God, and I knew I was to be cast down. I had long ago discarded the layer of formal politeness with which we negotiated the world, but now I had to wade through the slough of my licentiousness until I found level ground underfoot, a ground of true sensibility and love of Christ. Now I gaze upon a pinhead and see angels dancing.
A man faced with losing his vice, and facing the darkest part of his life, begins to see God in his life. A gorgeous monologue, and a perfect ending- not really a spoiler. Continue reading “The Libertine”