The Red Vial: A Drama in Three Acts

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This edition of The Red Vial is intended for a readership in nineteenth-century literary and theatrical culture. Making a previously unpublished work by Collins accessible to the public, it enables a reassessment of Collins’s significance as a dramatist. While his novels have attracted scholarship in recent years, Collins’s dramatic prowess has received little critical attention. This edition provides an understanding of Collins the dramatist and contributes to knowledge both of Collins and of Victorian theatre. Collins and Dickens advocated a new realism in the theatre, reflecting on-going developments in France; they were thus ahead of their time in British theatre. The introduction to this volume therefore not only provides background on the play and its first production, but reveals how Collins was committed to the reform and innovation of contemporary British theatre. Collins has not been allocated his rightful place in British theatre history as an instigator of a new type of drama and a more restrained style of acting. The introduction also refocuses attention on Collins’s contribution to the development of theatre and drama in the Victorian period implying the need for a recalibration of previously held orthodoxies around Victorian theatrical culture. It prompts further consideration of the generic ambiguities associated with the melodramas of the period. The volume provides a text aligned as closely as possible with the performed version, cross-referenced with the Lord Chamberlain’s manuscript copy. A cross-section of critical reactions to the first production is provided, while the printed version of the text will allow readers to form their own judgments of the play. There is also a comparative discussion on Collins’s later adaptation of the play into a novel. This edition of The Red Vial offers a significant contribution to nineteenth-century theatre history and challenges received critical opinion. (Taken from reader’s report)
Original languageEnglish
PublisherFrancis Boutle
Number of pages79
ISBN (Print)978-0995747395
Publication statusPublished - 2017


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