The Libertine

Synopsis: In 1660, with the return of Charles II to the English throne, theater, the visual arts, science and sexual promiscuity flourish. Thirteen years later, in the midst of political and economical problems, Charles II asks for the return of his friend John Wilmot, aka the second Earl of Rochester, from exile back to London. John is a morally-corrupt drunkard and a sexually- active cynical poet. When the King asks John to prepare a play for the French ambassador so as to please him, John meets the aspiring actress Elizabeth Barry in the playhouse and decides to make her into a great star. He falls in love with her and she becomes his mistress. During the presentation to the Frenchman, he falls into disgrace with the court. When he was thirty-three years old and dying of syphilis and alcoholism, he converts to being a religious man.
Director(s): Laurence Dunmore
Production: Weinstein Company
  2 wins & 8 nominations.
Rotten Tomatoes:
114 min

Allow me to be frank

at the commencement

You will not like me.

The gentlemen will be envious

and the ladies will be repelled.

You will not like me now and you will like me

a good deal less as we go on .


an announcement.

l am up for it.

All the time.

That is not a boast or an opinion .

lt is bone-hard medical fact.

l put it round, you know.

And you will watch me putting it round

and sigh for it.

Don 't.

lt is a deal of trouble for you

and you are better off watching and drawing

your conclusions from a distance

than you would be

if l got my tarse up your petticoats.

Gentlemen ,

do not despair.

l am up for that as well.

And the same warning applies.

Still your cheesy erections till l've had my say,

but later when you shag,

and later you will shag,

l shall expect it of you ,

and l will know if you have let me down .

l wish you to shag

with my homuncular image

rattling in your gonads.


how it was for me, how it is for me.

And ponder.

Was that shudder

the same shudder he sensed?

Did he know something more profound?

Or is there some wall of wretchedness

that we all batter with our heads

at that shining live-long moment?

That is it.

That is my prologue.

Nothing in rhyme.

No protestations of modesty.

You were not expecting that, l hope.

l am John Wilmot.

Second Earl of Rochester.

And l do not want you to like me.

Wren 's upset. The clergy approved

the most conventional design for the cathedral.

Now he feels

there's no room for artistic manoeuvre.

Put a sub-clause in the warrant.

''Variations in the design

are to be ornamental rather than essential.''

Then he can do what he wants.


There are representations for you

to be more careful in public.

Perhaps a bodyguard.

- Whose idea is that?

- Your brother.


No-one's going to kill me

if it means having him on the throne.


- Danby says the army is costing too much.

lt's Danby's job to balance the books.

lf he thinks it's good economics to disband

the army and be invaded by the French,

he can look for another position .

Anything else?

You asked me to remind you

about the Earl of Rochester.

When did l banish him?

Three months ago.

- For how long?

- A year.

Bring him back. Now.

John .

Be attentive to your wife.

She's not accustomed to London .

Mother, l shall in all things

endeavour to serve her...

and you .

Serve God.

You must not fear London.

lt is not London l fear.

You abducted me in a coach like this

when l was still a virgin heiress.

And did you like abduction ?


Speak of it.

John ! This is not the place.

Speak to me of abduction .

I was 18.

And worth two and a half thousand a year.

You ambushed me,

bundled me from my coach,

and drove me away.

The King thrust you in the tower for it.

And l dug in my heels

and spurned and shunned the other men .

l would only embrace my dear abductor.

Dryden 's new play.

Here, Chas, grab a wodge.

Dryden couldn 't write a laundry list.


- Johnny!

- Johnny.

We were pining for you

Even now we're pining.

When l wake in the country,

l dream of being in London ,

and then when l get here,

it's full of people like you .

- Johnny.

- This reign 's a shambles, do you not think?

My father risked life and limb

hiding that thing Charles up an oak tree.

Has he forgiven you?

He's forgiven me. l shan 't forgive him.

Why did he banish you this time?

Well, it is a fine morning.

l'm walking through the galleries.

The King is walking through the galleries.

l'm splendidly alone.

The King is surrounded

by a slow-moving troop...

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Stephen Jeffreys

Stephen Jeffreys (born 1950) is a British playwright. His plays include: Like Dolls or Angels (1977) (Sunday Times Playwriting Award at the National Student Drama Festival); Carmen 1936 (Edinburgh Fringe Festival Fringe First in 1984); Valued Friends (1990, Hampstead Theatre); The Clink (1990); The Libertine (1994) - also a screenplay filmed with Johnny Depp; A Going Concern (1993); An adaptation of Richard Brome's play, A Jovial Crew (1992); I Just Stopped By to See The Man (2000); Interruptions (2001); and Lost Land (2005). (2008) The Convict's Opera, a reworking of The Beggar's Opera by John Gay, jointly commissioned by Out of Joint theatre company and Sydney Theatre Company. Backbeat (2011, Duke of York's Theatre, London) (Co-written with Iain Softley). Caught in Flight screenplay. A film on Diana, Princess of Wales more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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