'Our hurtless mirth': What’s Funny about The Dutch Courtesan?
This paper reflects on the performance work of the Toronto Dutch Courtesan to explore what is potentially funny in the play and how this comic potential might be used to explore inequities filtering through misogyny, religious intolerance, and xenophobia. Marston’s play operates in series of comic registers eliciting a range of emotional responses from audiences – from cruel laughter to cathartic pathos to light-hearted pleasure to anxiety. While the play’s critical and moral ‘point’ is impossible to pin down, the Toronto Courtesan demonstrated the capacity of the play’s comic ambiguity to critique social inequity and to invite audiences to ask reflectively: what are we laughing at and why?
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