(Critical Survey of Literature, Revised Edition)

A graceful tragi-comedy with an extremely complicated story, THE SPANISH GIPSY apparently derives most of its action and background from portions of two novels by Cervantes. There are two plots which develop side by side and are occasionally interwoven. One of them, which furnishes the play with its title, concerns a Spanish nobleman who has been exiled from his country; he returns secretly to Spain as leader of a band of gipsies who, under his influence, eschew stealing or cheating to lead a utopian, idyllic existence as popular singers and entertainers. A charming pastoral mood pervades this portion of the drama. The major plot, however, is tinged with violence and tragedy, involving Roderigo and Clara as protagonists. The opening situation is so striking as to be almost unique, and it is no small feat that after a very melodramatic first act the interest of the play can be maintained at such a high level. Some scholars contend that Middleton and Rowley had some assistance from John Ford on this play.