Dalkey Archive’s edition of Firbank’s Complete Plays makes available for the first time in one volume this inimitable British writer’s three excursions into drama: The Mauve Tower (1904), a dream play reminiscent in language and setting of Oscar Wilde’s Salomé and the writings of the French symbolists; A Disciple from the Country (1907), a one-act comedy about a debutante who flirts with religion and sainthood in order to catch a husband; and The Princess Zoubaroff (1920), a three-act comedy about marriage, religion, and homosexual separatism. The latter, which has been produced in England occasionally since the 1950s, is considered to be among Firbank’s major works, and yet it, like the other two plays, has not been generally available in this country until this edition was published.
The plays are filled with the wit and satire for which Firbank’s novels are relished; indeed, Firbank’s novels relied so heavily on dialogue that the distinction between them and his plays is minimal. Consequently, those who enjoy his novels and stories—as well as those who enjoy the comic British theater tradition of Pinero, Wilde, and Coward—should welcome this collection. Steven Moore, who edited the Complete Short Stories, has written an introduction placing the plays in the context of Firbank’s life.