A kind of English comedy, usually in the form of the comedy of manners, that flourished during the Restoration period in England (i.e. from the Restoration of the Stuart monarchy in 1660 to about 1700), when actresses were first employed on the London stage. Appealing to a fairly narrow audience of aristocrats in the recently reopened theatres, Restoration comedy relied upon sophisticated repartee and a knowledge of the exclusive code of manners in high society, the plots being based on the complex intrigues of the marriage‐market. The characters can often be divided between the young aristocrats who can understand and manipulate the rules of the social game, and the middle‐class upstarts who wish to be thought fashionable and witty but expose their ignorance in a series of blunders. The frequently cynical approach to marriage and sexual infidelity in Restoration comedy invited accusations of immorality. Significant examples are George Etherege's The Man of Mode (1676), William Wycherley's The Country Wife (1675), and William Congreve's The Way of the World (1700). For a fuller account, consult Edward Burns, Restoration Comedy (1987).
http://alojamientos.us.es/restoration Restoration Comedy project at University of Seville, catalogues plays and performances.
Subjects: Shakespeare Studies and Criticism.