Like all the other excellent swimmers competing in the 2008 Olympics who would have had a shot at a gold (or two) were it not for the fact that Michael Phelps also competed that year, Ben Jonson is the playwright we would remember if he hadn’t had the misfortune of being completely overshadowed by William Shakespeare (and/or Christopher Marlowe, if he had lived past 1593.) This could have been the American Jonson Center, and the AJC Theatre Camp… a near miss that would most definitely have irked the competitive, combative Jonson.
However, Jonson has Shakespeare beat in at least one area. He mastered a genre in which his frenemy never showed much interest: the city comedy, where the degenerate and cunning main character(s) play tricks on the various flamboyant characters of London, often with the help of a trusty (or not so trusty) sidekick. In Volpone, the Fox fleeces everybody — greedy lawyers, jealous husbands and lustful young men, betrayed sons — setting them all against each other with the help of his partner Mosca. Devious shenanigans and mischievous escapades follow. When the dust settles, whose loyalties will be called into question?
by Ben Jonson