Like Shakespeare’s Cymbeline, which was probably written for performance at court in 1609–10, this play begins with a conversation between two courtiers. As in the earlier play, the style of speech is rather elaborate, careful and diplomatic, as befits the status of the speakers. Unlike Cymbeline, it is in prose, although it is not easy to read. But, as usually the case with Shakespeare, the difficulties incorporate a wealth of clues for actors and readers; they are designed to influence the pace of the scene and to indicate something of what is to come. They introduce not just the story but also the plot: the way in which that story will be presented, arranged and developed.
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