Landgartha: a tragie-comedy
By Henry Burnell
Deana Rankin editor
Landgartha (1641), first performed in Dublin on St Patrick’s Day 1640, was the last play produced before political unrest forced the closure of Dublin’s only theatre. Staged the night before the Irish Parliament debated the introduction of laws against bigamy, it weaves a complex tale of love and marriage. Norwegian Amazon Landgartha persuades the Danish King to help overturn the Swedish occupation of her homeland. As peace ensues, Landgartha reluctantly agrees to break the Amazon code and marry him; but Denmark proves unfaithful. The allegory is compelling: the strife between Norway, Sweden and Denmark represents that brewing between Ireland, England and Scotland. A robust Old English response to dominant colonial representations of Ireland, Burnell’s Landgartha is a compelling fusion of English tragicomedy with Irish storytelling.
Deana Rankin is Lecturer in English and Drama at Royal Holloway, University of London.