I first picked up Your Swash is Unbuckled
last summer, when I was interning at the Drama Bookshop in New York. Usually I go for much darker plays, but the title of this one caught my attention. I started reading it before I left for the day, and within thirty seconds I was laughing. Sold.
Your Swash Is Unbuckled
, by Jeff Goode, is a collection of eight short stage-combat plays. These stories about pirates, brigands, and highwaymen mix old-fashioned stereotypes and modern-esque anachronisms to create something unexpected and wonderful. In "Gladiators Glorious," for example, expressions like "The Thumb" (for when the emperor signals whether combatants live or die) and "C & L" (for "Christians and Lions") are used. In this play, two gladiators argue over Alexandra, a girl they are both interested in. While arguing, they fight with spears, fist-cuffs, and swords. Their dialogue is as sharp as their weapons. In another short play entitled "The Harlot and the Highwayman," a prostitute is accosted by a highwayman and teaches him how to do his job properly. As these characters spar with swords and words, it becomes clear that there is something at stake besides gold; and the spark that ignites between them only adds to the comedy in the story. Other vignettes involve a laundress and two wicked stepsisters, a brigandess and a princess, and an ambassador and an Amazon warrior.
This is a great play for stage-combat teachers, actors, and the general public alike. All of the characters are blustering and swashbuckling, but they also have depth of a sort: most of them are hiding something, and their secrets are what make the comedy in this collection of plays. Each play by itself is10 to15 minutes long, ideal for teachers who want to work scenes and stage-combat with their students. And anyone looking for a good laugh will most likely find one before they have finished the book.
There are several good monologues in this collection, and the one I learned I now use for all the modern comedic auditions I go on. I am glad to have it in my repertoire, but I am even gladder to have the play on my bookshelf. I know I will always enjoy reading it. Stage combat practice, new monologues to add to my collection, and great entertainment on top of that. This is one of the best comedies I've ever read.