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The Libertine

3.77  ·  Rating details ·  140 ratings  ·  11 reviews
A sexually charged comedy by the award-winning playwright, about the life of debauched Restoration poet the Earl of Rochester, and his relationship with actress Elizabeth Barry.

The Libertine tells the story of the Earl of Rochester, friend and confidant of Charles II and the most notorious rake of his age. He was an anti-monarchist Royalist, an atheist who converted to
Paperback, 96 pages
Published September 1st 1995 by Nick Hern Books
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Average rating 3.77  · 
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The script is probably better than the film - that was my impression when watching the movie two and a half years ago, and so it is. The Libertine is packed with great lines; some of its middling moments would seem outstanding in other plays, and best of all, that declamatory staginess too obvious in contemporary drama works perfectly because this is about Restoration wits and theatre people, and it's entirely fitting for them to speak that way. It incorporates bits of scholarship without ...more
Apr 17, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: best-plays
This play, set during the reign of Charles II about John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester, has my favorite prologue ever.

Before sharing the prologue, allow me to influence whose voice you hear in your head while reading it. On stage, Rochester was initially played by John Malkovich, and I wish I had seen his performance. I can hear him in my mind delivering these lines. The film adaptation starred Johnny Depp as Rochester, with a slightly, but not overly so, abbreviated version of this prologue.
May 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: plays
hello 999 i started liking the 17th c pls help
George Siehl
This play by Stephen Jeffreys was staged in England in 1994. It follows the later life of John Wilmot, poet, Earl of Rochester, and libertine. The play is, in turn, bawdy, comedic, and arresting, as we encounter the players over a span of years during which their lives, behaviors, and personal relationships undergo great change. It takes place during the years of the restoration of the monarch at the head of English government following the Protectorate of Oliver Cromwell. The King, Charles II, ...more
Nov 10, 2016 rated it really liked it
Playing in London this fall, The Libertine is a heady mix of comedy and drama, of the highs and low of a life lived on and over the edge. That I can’t manage the trip to see it staged is driving me crazy.

Based on the actual 2nd Earl of Rochester, John Wilmot, The Libertine turns Rochester into a flawed, complicated person, somewhere between a lovable cad and heartless womanizer. He’s a mesmerizing character on the page, and I would imagine he’s doubly so on stage (operating under the assumption
Feb 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: drama
There is a film adaptation of this play starring Johnny Depp, which I think is an excellent movie. And I was familiar with the film version well before reading this play. But the play definitely didn't disappoint.

One of the things I enjoy about this play is that it's philosophical and metatheatrical without being overbearing about it. Rochester is a kind of existentialist, or even a nihilist, and his philosophy of life--born out of boredom, as he says--is constantly being tested, challenged, and
Kristyn Lee
Jan 18, 2016 rated it liked it
The film The Libertine no doubt drew from Jeffreys' play, but it is by no means an accurate representation. If you watched the film and found yourself wanting to know more context, back story, etc. then you should absolutely read the play in its entirety. The play just makes so much more sense than the film, and it's actually so much wittier! Rochester is hilarious to an extent far beyond how he was depicted in the film! If you're looking for an accurate depiction of the actual events of his ...more
May 13, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: theater
I was introduced to this play by one of my students. It is quite good, albeit very adult in content. John Malkovich created the title character [The Earl of Rochester] in the original cast. Set in Restoration England it is an interesting character study that also gives insight into the workings of the Restoration Theatre.
Elinor Perry-Smith
Jun 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
So much better than the film in many ways, it's really worth reading the play beofre you go and see a theatre production. Full of the wit that made Rochester and his friends so funny, and also packed with trenchant observations from the women in Rochester's life. One of teh best plays I've ever read.
Leah Hepner
Jul 09, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Amazingly written play that has better insights than any biography.
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“You must acquire the trick of ignoring those who do not like you. In my experience, those who do not like you fall into two categories: the stupid, and the envious. The stupid will like you in five years time, the envious never.” 19 likes
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