Not many playwrights are able to laugh when their first work is shouted off the stage and closes after the first night. But in 1921, at the age of twenty-three, Federico Garcia Lorca had few illusions about the average theatre-goer of his time. Professor Reed’s chapter on the contemporary Spanish theatre describes how, with the notable exception of Valle Inclan, it was moribund. Middle-class audiences did not want their imagination stretched or their prejudices challenged. Only a little mockery of their institutions and mores was permissible before a play was wound up with comforting predictability.