The Custom of the Country
Custom of the Country
|The Custom of the Country
is a Jacobean tragicomedy first performed circa 1619.
John Fletcher followed Shakespeare as house playwright for the King's Men and was one of the most popular and influential playwrights of his day. Written in collaboration with Philip Massinger, The Custom of the Country remained a popular part of the repertoire well into the 17th century.
Jacobean tragicomedy is famous for the surprising turns its various actions can take,
and The Custom of the Country is no exception.
Then their real troubles begin, and they have many adventures before all ends happily. Those adventures include Rutilio's service as a very in-demand male stud in a brothel for the ladies of the city - which no doubt contributed to the play's reputation for indecency! John Dryden referred to the play in his Essay of Dramatick Poesie; he was concerned to defend Restoration plays from the charge of lewdness, and claimed that there is more "bawdry" in this play than in all later plays combined.
The related subplot concerns the adventures of Rutilio, who fights a duel with Manuel's
arrogant young nephew Duarte and apparently kills him. Rutilio is unknowingly sheltered by
his opponent's mother Guidomar, the arrested by the watch, then ransomed by Sulpitia for
her sexual service. Rutilio is redeemd from this servitude by a recovered and repetant
Duarte, and eventually marries Guidomar.