The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 8.0636. Wednesday, 4 June 1997.
Date: Tuesday, 3 Jun 1997 15:31:20 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: London/Stratford-upon-Avon Theatre
1607, Susanna Shakespeare marries John Hall, physician in
Stratford-upon-Avon. 1612, Susanna publicly slandered by John Lane,
gentleman, claiming that Susanna Hall "had runinge of the reynes and had
been naught with Rafe Smith at John Palmer." 1612, Susanna Hall brings a
charge of defamation against John Lane at the diocesan court at
Worcester Cathedral. 1996, THE HERBAL BED, a play by Peter Whelan, is
produced at the RSC's Other Place space in Stratford-upon-Avon.
It makes considerable use of Dr. Hall's famed casebooks, the (known)
facts of the Hall/Lane case, and is a psychological/moral/ thriller. It
has dramatic layers of perception/interpretation/reality that play off
one another. It ends with a question, surely the most satisfying of all
dramatic (and human) punctuations.
This play is well-made, taut, thrilling. And the most moving and
startling character is in the wings just as the curtain rings down:
Shakespeare himself, too sick to walk, carried in a chair by the
battling males, John and Rafe. We never see him, but the audacity of
having him in the wings is breathtaking. The play is slated for a New
York production in 1998, but it can be seen now in concurrent
productions at the Other Space in Stratord-upon-Avon and at the Duchess
Theatre on London's West End. Allow me to close with Susanna Hall's
Here lyeth Ye body of Susanna
Wife to John Hall, Gent: Ye Davgh
ter of William Shakespeare, Gent:
Shee deceased Ye 11th of July
1649, Aged 66
Witty above her sexe, but that's not all,
Wise to salvation was good Mistris Hall,
Something of Shakespeare was in that, but this
Wholy of him with whom she's now in blisse.
Then, Passenger, hast nere a teare,
To weep with her that wept with all;
That wept, yet set herself to chere
Them up with comforts cordiall.
Her love shall live, her mercy spread,
When thou has't ner'e a teare to shed.