A scholarly introduction to a broad field covers the theatre's extensive history from the Dionysian plays to Strindberg and presents several plays in toto for succinct analyses of general trends and particular dramatic structure. Mr. Downer, who views the dramatist as contributing a statement of old ideas in an arrangement of living, breathing life, maintains a good level of creative criticism in most of his definitions, as he tackles 'the art of the play' both in terms of theatrical presentation and of inner structure. Greek plays, for example, were ""focussed"" dramas physically and literarily. They were presented in strongly centered outdoor amphitheatres, their passage in time, space and emotional action is fashioned to bring all these elements to bear directly on the short presentation. On the other hand, Ibsen's Ghosts is an example of modern ""keyhole"" drama where the audience is allowed to sit in on private life, with their chairs a projection of the living room-stage and their eyes and ears witness to the common place, which, carried to logical conclusions brings its own dramatic force, as differentiated, say, from the patterned and exterior forces that propelled a Greek tragedy to its inevitable end. Through trends and viewpoints that separate these two extremes, here is pithy study material for the student-layman.