The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 24.0241 Monday, 13 May 2013
Date: May 12, 2013 3:06:11 PM EDT
Subject: Attacking Travelers in 1H4
My thanks to Gerald Downs and JD Markel for their contributions to this atmospheric question. I remain puzzled as to why the west side of 14th would be foggy and the east side clear, but that seemed to be the rule. If it was going to be foggy at the beach we’d know it when we hit 14th. (I’m thinking of those heady days before girls and driver’s licenses when we’d be riding our big Schwinns with the butterfly handlebars.)
However, I have a question of more Bardic concern. At the end Act Two, Scene 3 of 1 Henry IV, the Travelers enter, are attacked by Falstaff, Bardolph, Gadshill and Peto, surrender and are tied up. The gang then exits and Hal and Poins, disguised, come to center stage. When Falstaff et al. return, the Prince and Poins set on them and drive them off, gathering up the loot before they, too, exit.
How is this to be staged? What is to be done with the Travelers, who seem to disappear without being untied? My memories of this play are all fuddled up with movie versions, where such untidy things as bound actors on stage can be safely ignored. They have long since gone back to the snack tent, had a meal, collected their pay and started for home. On stage it’s a different matter. You really do have to do something with them.
My preliminary assumption is that Hal and Poins untie them and shoo them away, since the two could hardly just walk off, leaving them helpless in the dark on the bandit-ridden road to Canterbury. Or do they? They have to leave with the loot, or else several lines in 2,4 will have to be changed.
Thus, I solicit some memories and comments from those who have better access to stage productions than I (which includes a fair percentage of the known world). How is this worked out? Did it succeed, or did you have to overlook it? I really am befogged about this matter.