In addition, the themes of women versus men in The Country Wife, with women taking on a new, strong and sexually orientated role, coincided with the introduction of women on stage, and therefore making a stand for sexual equality. People were obsessed by what other people of society thought of them, and going to the theatre during the Restoration Period was a big social event, as it was one of the fashionable places to be seen, as is The New Exchange in The Country Wife. Queues were extremely long to get in, as it was on a first come first served basis.
It was a whole day out, as people would usually dine before the play began at around 3 o’clock. Unlike Elizabethan theatre where people of all classes attended, Restoration Theatre was aimed at the higher classes, and the audience was mainly court based. This lead to the playwrights writing plays specifically aimed at these types of people This was mainly because gentlemen of good breeding selected by the King managed the theatres, and the playwrights, whom were also of the upper classes, specifically wrote their plays for the high-quality people.
This was because, as a comedy of manners, the plays would reflect on their attitudes, and satirize the conduct in which members of that society behaved. For example, the rakes, fops, and naughty married ladies claiming to virtuous present in The Country Wife, were also members of the high-class society making up the audience during that period. This mocking of their society was meant to make the audience laugh at themselves, and it pleased them that a play had been based on them. The Country Wife in particular, includes references to the unfashionable countryside, as in the reference to Mrs Pinchwife as a, “Country bumpkin.
” This again boosted the ego of the city inhabitants as the play represented them as being intellectual and very stylish. The social implications of going to see a play were reflected in the importance of seating. The people of highest quality sat in the most expensive boxes each side of the stage so that other members of the audience would easily see them, and the gallants and fops would sit in the pit in front of the stage, as does Sparkish, “Whilst we talk nothing else in the pit as loud. ” Some members of the audience were therefore sitting on the stage, which was desirable as they were more easily seen.
The galleries, which were the cheapest areas, were for people of lesser quality. In order to attract even more attention to themselves, it was fashionable for young men to arrive late without paying, and thus causing a commotion. This is why the main action of the play is at the end as it would be seen and enjoyed by all, thus gaining the play a better reputation as word of mouth spread. The buildings themselves had also improved in quality, as unlike the large open-air Elizabethan theatres, they were indoor establishments of smaller design, thus creating a more intimate atmosphere. This also encouraged people of higher classes to attend.