When Charles II reopened London theaters and granted patents to William Davenant and Thomas Killigrew, English theater was at a low. Although players persisted since the official closure of the theaters, they were punished for illegal performances with the destruction of their costumes and playhouses. New innovations, such as changeable scenery, machines, and the like, meant that Davenant and Killigrew were starting from scratch, lacking costumes and playhouses to accommodate their needs. One possible reading of the inclusion of pre-1642 plays in the repertoire is that they offered the opportunity to stage productions quickly and to make simple changes for entertainment’s sake. I question this narrative by examining Shakespeare’s tragedies. I explore how late-seventeenth-century adapters of Shakespeare revitalize his work to speak to the trauma of the English Civil Wars and the potential of the English stage. I argue that the modifications made to Shakespeare’s tragedies did not simply cater to changing technologies and tastes. These works show evidence of a drive to provide less ambiguous versions of Shakespeare’s plays with obvious moral messages, most of which comment on the politics of the Restoration. These plays illustrate the potential of English theater as a space for audience education. I reimagine these adaptations as responses to, and attempts to revitalize, the reputation of English theater. In order to illustrate Shakespearean adaptation as a response to the state of theater, I place four of Shakespeare’s tragedies (Macbeth, King Lear, Hamlet, and Othello) in two different contexts: the instability of Restoration theater and the critical writings of their adapters. The closure of the theaters developed out of a long anti-theatrical prejudice, and the political crises of the late 1670s and early 1680s only increased the difficulty of maintaining the new theater duopoly. In these circumstances, many prominent writers spent time describing criteria for an effective drama. They used prefatory writing to explain their intent and theories. They envisioned a new era for tragedy and drama after the Restoration: one where tragedy took its place on the stage as a finely wrought piece of art and an effective means of moral education.