This video from the University of Nottingham in England says about itself:
A literary detective believes he has evidence that links an 18th Century play, Double Falsehood, to a lost work by Shakespeare.
From the Daily Telegraph in England:
Why William Shakespeare‘s lost play is not a forgery
A fierce debate raged in the press and the coffee-houses of London when Double Falsehood was first published in 1728.
Published: 8:00AM GMT 16 Mar 2010
Had Lewis Theobald unearthed the holy grail of literary scholarship, a lost Shakespeare play? Or was he boldly conning the public with a forgery?
Theobald always maintained that he had worked from an authentic manuscript, but he did not include the play in his subsequent edition of Shakespeare’s complete works. What accounts for this seeming inconsistency?
The simple answer is that Theobald always knew that the play was not Shakespeare’s original, but rather a rewriting of the script to make it conform to the conventions of the Restoration theatre.
The title and the characters’ names were changed not by Theobald but by the unknown Restoration adapter. Double Falsehood is only an indirect version of Shakespeare’s lost Cardenio.
The more complicated answer to the question of why Theobald went cold on his own discovery paradoxically offers the proof that the play was not a forgery.
One argument of the doubters who attacked Theobald was that the style of the play was closer to that of John Fletcher than that of Shakespeare.
Theobald, who knew the repertoire of Elizabethan and Jacobean drama exceptionally well, could not deny this.
But here’s the thing: no one in Theobald’s time knew that Shakespeare and Fletcher also collaborated on two other plays, Henry VIII and The Two Noble Kinsmen.
How could Theobald have set out to forge a Shakespeare play and produced a script in a style that is two parts Fletcher to one part Shakespeare when he did not know that Shakespeare and Fletcher were collaborators? Rather, the very Fletcherianness of the play proves that is in some part Shakespearean.
Since the time of Theobald, scholars have found the rock solid evidence that Shakespeare and Fletcher co-wrote Cardenio soon after the publication in 1612 of the first English translation of Cervantes’ Don Quixote.
The play was performed to acclaim at court. The original script is lost, but the publication of Theobald’s adaptation in the Arden Shakespeare series is to be welcomed.
And even more exciting is the news that Gregory Doran, Chief Associate Artistic Director of the Royal Shakespeare Company, is working towards a production of a conjectural reconstruction of the original.
Even though the play was popular at court, the play seems to contain criticism by the commoner Shakespeare of social hierarchies of the Renaissance period (as there was in Cervantes‘ Don Quixote, on which the play is based): by casting a nobleman as a villain and a commoner as a hero. More than 150 years later, on the eve of the French revolution, this would happen again in The Marriage of Figaro.
Also from the Daily Telegraph:
William Shakespeare’s lost play Double Falsehood: a synopsis
The plot of Double Falsehood contains all the ingredients of an intriguing play in both the Elizabethan and 18th century periods.
By Richard Alleyne
Published: 8:30AM GMT 16 Mar 2010
It stars two beautiful female protagonists Violante and Leonora and two contrasting leading men, one honourable and of modest birth, and the other an aristocratic villain.
It is the latter Henriquez who is the perpetrator of the “double falsehood” of the title, nearly raping Violante and then courting Leonora, the betrothed of his lower born male rival Julio.
The lively plot contains an interrupted marriage, cross dressing and crude and unwelcome sexual advances to keep audiences hooked from start to finish.
There is a final grand confrontation and reconciliation scene at the play’s end which results in Julio and Leonora being happily reunited and a repentant Henriquez wanting to marry Violante to make up for his crimes.
Meanwhile all that is known about the play Cardenio was that it was performed by London theatre group, The King’s Men, in 1613 and appears to have been based on the character of the title from Cervantes’ Don Quixote.
But the full text of the play has disappeared, leaving scholars with just the music and lyrics to one or two songs.