ABSTRACT

In the late 19th century, a theatrical movement called ‘naturalism’ emerged in which human beings going about their ordinary business were examined like organisms in a laboratory. While some of the ‘business’ examined was of the industrial kind, it was the domestic situation of families and lovers that was scrutinised by this new theatre. Naturalism was a fundamentally aesthetic, methodological project, in which an idealised view of science was applied to human behaviour. My thesis in this chapter is that the forensic’s figuring of truth in terms of interiority, solvability, and transparency extends aims and principles advanced by Zola, Taine, and Comte that helped to shape naturalistic drama. The forensic turn continues and extends this project of theatrical naturalism, as reflexively highlighted and disrupted by the four works I discuss.