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The no-nonsense title of Tanya Pollard’s Drugs and Theater in Early Modern England led me at first glance to imagine a dry tome cataloguing and exploring the medicine chest of the Renaissance English stage. This book is no such thing: not only is it meticulously researched and a compelling read, but beneath its surface its argument stretches well beyond the limited promise of its title. Pollard delves deep into the period’s antitheatrical debates, making sense of their angst by parsing theater’s more-than-metaphorical link to poisons and narcotics, and the possibility of its affective, transformative power over its audiences.
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