The Dog in the Manger

This show has now closed, click here for a listing of current and future London shows

Previewed 21 January 2005, Opened 2 February 2005, Closed 26 March 2005 at the Playhouse Theatre in London

The RSC presents Lope de Vega's 1614 comedy The Dog in the Manger in London directed by Laurence Boswell as part of the 2005 Spanish Golden Age Season.

A social comedy about marriage and society. While the Countess's secretary is posing as a son of a statesman, the Countess is free to marry him, but when he admits his deception, the Countess is faced with a social dilemma. The Dog in the Manger follows the dilemma of a countess who compromises her honour, manipulating her way into a socially acceptable marriage.

The cast for The Dog in the Manger in London includes Joseph Chance, Claire Cox, Julius D'Silva, Rebecca Johnson, Katherine Kelly, Melanie MacHugh, Joseph Millson, Emma Pallant, Oscar Pearce, John Ramm, Matt Ryan, Peter Sproule, John Stahl, Simon Trinder, John Wark and Oliver Williams. The play is presented by the RSC in a new translation by David Johnston. It is directed by Laurence Boswell with choreography by Heather Habens, designs by Es Devlin, lighting by Ben Ormerod, music composed by Ilona Sekacz, sound by Tim Oliver and fights by Terry King. Staged in repertory with two other productions - House Of Desires and Pedro, The Great Pretender - these three plays transfer to London's West End following a season at the RSC's Swan Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon during 2004.

"The RSC's daring season of 17th-century Spanish plays begins in great style with one of Lope de Vega's best comedies. Countess Diana is secretly in love with her secretary, the handsome Teodoro. The play is a critique of honour: Vega, the most socially and politically aware of the three great golden-age dramatists, is writing a sharp social satire about a world where status is all... Laurence Boswell's direction deftly handles the vigour and social nuances of the play, and David Johnston's translation gives the dialogue a modern feel without sabotaging the text." The Sunday Times

"If any venture thoroughly vindicates the RSC's notorious decision to shake up its London operation, it's the Spanish Golden Age season, now making a triumphant arrival in the West End. Plays that would have looked overexposed on the Barbican main stage or cramped in the Pit find their near-perfect home at the plushly ornate yet warmly intimate Playhouse Theatre... Laurence Boswell's dementedly funny production of The Dog in the Manger by the preposterously prolific Lope de Vega is the one you absolutely have to see... Though showing its age in its preoccupation with questions of honour, de Vega's comic gem speaks with astonishing directness to a modern audience about the trials of courtship and the fickleness of both men and women when it comes to matters of the heart." The Daily Telegraph

"Laurence Boswell has put together a season of plays from the Spanish Golden Age of the seventeenth century. He's begun with a glorious production - his own - of Lope de Vega's The Dog in the Manger... David Johnston's pellucid translation of this tremendous play evokes a world that is at once eerily familiar - the love affair between steward and mistress, the abrupt, dodgy pairings-off of minor characters, could have come from Webster or Shakespeare - and insistently strange. The volatility of mood and the rapid switchbacking from comedy to tragedy gives the play a completely distinctive pace and flavour. Each scene is pleated with contradictions. Every Quixote has his Sancho Panza." The Observer

"The Dog in the Manger is an absolute delight. This little-known gem by the prolific 17th-century playwright Lope de Vega gets the RSC's Spanish Golden Age season off to a scintillating start, translated with zest by David Johnston and staged by Laurence Boswell...De Vega's class-crossing lovers are fascinatingly akin to those in Twelfth Night and All's Well That End's Well, and the switches between boisterous comedy, satire, suspense and near-tragedy are breathtaking. Boswell's ensemble are superb... There are a few moments where you want to turn the volume down slightly and the happy ending feels hasty. However, Boswell cleverly tightens that up, creating something more like Shakespeare's problem plays by having the couples finish with a partner-swapping dance full of bitter-sweet ambivalence. See this." The Independent on Sunday

The Dog in the Manger in London at the Playhouse Theatre previewed from 21 January 2005, opened on 2 February 2005 and closed on 26 March 2005.