Dr Paul Hamilton

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 27.029  Monday, 1 February 2016

 

From:        Larry Weiss <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         January 27, 2016 at 1:40:40 PM EST

Subject:    Re: SHAKSPER: Dr Paul Hamilton

 

Do any of Dr. Hamilton’s friends have any insight as to the underlying reasons for HMG’s action?  It strikes me as particularly odd that they are concerned that someone they want to deport is a flight risk.

 

 

 

R3 1.4

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 27.028  Monday, 1 February 2016

 

From:        Gerald E. Downs <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         January 31, 2016 at 11:27:18 PM EST

Subject:    R3 1.4 

 

The next sections of R3 1.4 include fifty lines where Q1/F speech headings agree (939ff) and a hundred lines often variant or problematic (990ff). I infer that all the murderers’ prefixes are subject to analysis more careful than applied by the editors of Q1 and F. Speech headings throughout the play were altered in years since and many others have been reasonably (and interestingly) questioned. To my knowledge, no modern editor has tumbled to the probability that the earliest edition garnered ascriptions from the dialogue only; yet the rate of error alone suggests the hypothesis.

 

Assigning speeches without authorial guidance required attention and searching about, though most headings would be obvious. Three-way or ambiguous dialogue, forms of address, and other matters lead to blunders (which may be all I can prove). Other bad texts suffer from such mistakes; where they occur in numbers there’s no handy explanation, except theatrical reporting. Yet veneration of the Shakespeare Folio, passive dismissal of surreptitious transmission (so readily conceded by F itself), and a conservative “biographical imperative” has editors in curiosity limbo.

 

Because conviction (Bordeaux, etc.) ran ahead of analysis, it was easy to reassign speeches but I missed some recovered nuance on the first passes. Themes are often forced on Shakespeare (as all must know, barring their own); I try to avoid publish-/perish-able nonsense like the flu (makes me sick). And yet I’ve noted a recurring Shakespeare topic, probably because its ironies were slower to disappear than the rest of my religious heritage. To this day, conventional Christianity offers not only the promise of Heaven or Hell, but an opportunity for grownups to switch tickets in their final moments. 

 

Shakespeare never quite got over that, whatever he personally believed. King Hamlet was ‘sent packing’ with his sins on his head; Claudius was spared when praying because Hamlet (mistakenly) held out for a chance to return the favor (when the murderer’s “readiness was all gone”). Richard got Clarence’s axe falling (1.1) by airily alluding to a problem other characters took seriously:

 

Simple plaine Clarence I doe loue thee so,

That I will shortly send thy soule to heauen,

If heauen will take the present at our hands:

 

Clarence (aka George Plantagenet) wasn’t simple enough to minimize the threat:

 

Cla. O Brokenbury I haue done those things,

Which now beare euidence against my soule

For Edwards sake, and see how he requites me.

I pray thee gentle keeper stay by me,

My soule is heauy, and I faine would sleepe.

 

Although he was ‘One o’ them smooth-talkin’ Dukes with a smart mouth,’ Clarence had probably done some serious praying in stir and was ready as he could get, evidence or not. But the executioners have only their own thoughts to guide them as “redemption” drifts fatefully through the scene. The Duke’s historical execution is a foregone conclusion but the way it comes about in the play is tied to religious norms. This is easier to see with reordered speech headings. Though the non-variant lines come first, I came to them last:

 

                     (Q1, 939ff)

2 What shall I stab him as he sleepes?

1 No then he will say it was done cowardly

When he wakes.                    940

2 When he wakes,

Why foole he shall neuer wake till the iudgement day.

1 Why then he will say, we stabd him sleeping.

2 The vrging of that word Iudgement, hath bred

A kind of remorse in me.      945

1 What art thou afraid.

2 Not to kill him hauing a warrant for it, but to be dānd

For killing him, from which no warrant can defend vs.

1 Backe to the Duke of Glocester, tell him so.

2 I pray thee stay a while, I hope my holy humor will

Change, twas wont to hold me but while one would tel xx.

1 How doest thou feele thy selfe now?

2 Faith some certaine dregs of conscience are yet with

1 Remember our reward when the deede is done.  (in me.

2 Zounds he dies, I had forgot the reward.

1 Where is thy conscience now?

2 In the Duke of Glocesters purse.

1 So when he opens his purse to giue vs our reward,

Thy conscience flies out.

2 Let it go, theres few or none will entertaine it,

1 How if it come to thee againe?      966

2 Ile not meddle with it, it is a dangerous thing,

It makes a man a coward: A man cannot steale,

But it accuseth him: he cannot sweare, but it checks him:

He cannot lie with his neighbors wife, but it detects

Him. It is a blushing shamefast spirit, that mutinies

In a mans bosome: it fils one full of obstacles,

It made me once restore a purse of gold that I found,

It beggers any man that keepes it: it is turned out of all

Townes and Citties for a dangerous thing, and euery

Man that meanes to liue wel, endeuors to trust to

To himselfe, and to liue without it.

1 Zounds it is euen now at my elbowe perswading me

Not to kill the Duke.                             980

2 Take the diuell in thy minde, and beleeue him not,

He would insinuate with thee to make thee sigh.

1 Tut, I am strong in fraud, he cannot preuaile with me,

I warrant thee.         [frame]

2 Spoke like a tall fellow that respects his reputation.

Come shall we to this geere.          985

1 Take him ouer the costard with the hilts of thy sword,

And then we wil chop him in the malmsey But in the next

2 Oh excellent deuice, make a sop of him.          (roome.

 

Among minor differences, Q1 attempts verse while F prints prose. Unlined shorthand transcription leads to these contradictions. Q1/F prefixes agree here; asterisks indicate my preferences below:

 

1* What shall I stab him as he sleepes?

2* No then he will say it was done cowardly

1* Why foole he shall neuer wake till the iudgement day.

2* Why then he will say, we stabd him sleeping.

The vrging of that word Iudgement, hath bred

a kind of remorse in me.      945

 

Murderer 1 is more likely to suggest action. His Judgment joke affects 2, who again remarks the unmanly (and suddenly un-Christian) attack by “legal” executioners.

 

1 What art thou afraid. . . .

2 I pray thee stay a while, I hope my holy humor will

Change, twas wont to hold me but while one would tel xx.

1 How doest thou feele thy selfe now?

 

1 needn’t await a full twenty-count since the preceding dialogue took some time. They take advantage of Clarence’s last nap to iron out their feelings, but the ‘holy humor’ persists.

 

2 Faith some certaine dregs of conscience are yet with

1 Remember our reward when the deede is done. (in me.

2 Zounds he dies, I had forgot the reward. . . .

1 How if it [conscience] come to thee againe?      966

2 Ile not meddle with it.

1* it is a dangerous thing. It makes a man a coward: a man cannot steale, but it accuseth him: he cannot sweare, but it checks him: he cannot lie with his neighbors wife, but it detects him. It is a blushing shamefast spirit, that mutinies in a mans bosome: it fils one full of obstacles.

2. It made me once restore a purse of gold that I found.

1* It beggers any man that keepes it: it is turned out of all Townes and Citties for a dangerous thing, and euery man that meanes to liue wel, endeuors to trust to himselfe, and to liue without it.

2* Zounds it is euen now at my elbowe perswading me not to kill the Duke. 980

 

2 says he will ignore his conscience; however, 1’s list of its “bad” effects backfires, resulting in a sermon on the positive worth of guilty feelings. Who would really want to lie with his neighbor’s wife? 2 needs more encouragement; 1 is hot to trot.

 

1* Take the diuell in thy minde, and beleeue him not,

He would insinuate with thee to make thee sigh.

2* Tut, I am strong in frame, he cannot preuaile with me,

I warrant thee.

1* Spoke like a tall fellow that respects his reputation.

Come shall we to this geere. Take him ouer the costard

with the hilts of thy sword, and then we wil chop him

in the malmsey But in the next roome.

2 Oh excellent deuice, make a sop of him.

 

1 calls 2 a tall fellow (that never happens to me) and he keeps the ‘malmsey butt’ plan he repeats later (accidentally, here or there, no doubt; Q1 abounds in repetitions). If various agents got many obvious prefixes wrong, there’s even more cause for error in ambiguity; if sense or characterization is preserved by emendation an authorial pattern may turn up. In this situation it is illogical to rely on either old text.

 

Gerald E. Downs

 

 

 

Richard 3 History

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 27.027  Monday, 1 February 2016

 

From:        Gerald E. Downs <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         January 31, 2016 at 11:23:41 PM EST

Subject:    Richard 3 History 

 

It’s usually easy to spot a bad quarto; it quacks and duck-walks. Because Q1 Richard III (R3) is a memorial report, follow-up questions ought to be easy too: Was R3 too long to be played? R3 was played; that’s how it got printed. Does Q1 (1597) derive from F (1623)? No, it’s the other way round: a bad quarto is one of a kind; any later text sharing its hundreds of individual features is the offspring.

 

I was surprised some time ago to hear of John Jowett’s “proof” that Q1 “reproduces” F’s Strange speech headings and, consequently, most everything else in F. I now realize that the key to understanding R3 scholarship is the path it took to justify the topsy-turvy notion that a bad quarto originates in its reprint. It’s sort of like understanding “I’m My Own Grandpa.” 

 

Q1 R3 has a different story: “We are obliged to take refuge in theory after theory . . . which support the elaborate structure on one side, but on another topple it over. One hypothesis alone explains everything equally and completely: That the origin of the Quarto is a transcript from the performance of the play” (Alexander Schmidt, Jahrbuch, 1880, from Furness, Jr.) Speaking of shorthand reporting, Schmidt got it right 135 years ago. If you take the latest crooked path you’ll be lost as a jackrabbit Downtown; the last thing you’ll need is another jackrabbit.

 

Arden2 (Hammond) finds “strong reasons for believing [Q1 copy] to have been produced by an act of collective memorial reconstruction involving virtually the entire company. . . . [B]oth serious alterations and casual improvisations must therefore appear in Q as well as a huge number of greater and lesser actors’ errors. . . . The directions are often very vague . . .” (19 – 20).

 

What would a “whole-cast reconstruction” really be like? Cast members would record roles, doubling, addressees, dialogue (deadpan?), and stage directions (for starters) to a slowpoke scribe. Alternatively, the stenographer (knowing how to keep up) sacrificed that same information, which is conspicuously muddled in bad quartos; Arden2 “accidentally” describes a performance—and its shorthand report.

 

In 1998 (“R3 Perplexities,” Text) John Jowett agreed that “memorial transmission cannot be discounted entirely.” The last “systematic study . . . strongly affirms . . . collaborative reconstruction . . . . Memorial transmission in some shape or form may well influence the text. . . . [But] this kind of lapse does not . . . require a full-blown theory of memorial transmission . . . . Nevertheless, as variants like this accumulate, sustained memorial intervention becomes increasingly likely.”

 

Jowett was preparing, after all, to dismiss memorial reconstruction and to suggest that Q1 copy (QMS), with all its sidestepped “memorial shapes,” was transcribed from manuscript F copy (FMS): “If there is a colateral printed text against which to compare the candidate for memorial transmission, one would demonstrate, if possible, that the manuscript linkage between the two texts must consist of unbroken transcription” (N&Q 2000. Jowett’s Oxford edition of the same year strategically leaves argument to his companion articles.) A difference between “memorial reporting” and “sustained intervention of forms” is that the latter can be ignored (though all the problems remain): “Rejection of [MR] does not need to alter the status of [MSQ] as a derivative version” (75).

 

Derivative doesn't account for Q1; bad quartos are always derivative. The “special sense” of memorial reporting (that no authorial/descendent written text was transcribed) results in a Q1 to which F cannot be reconciled as both reprinted and authorial unless the presumed “good” manuscript was inexplicably dominated by the bad quarto. It becomes necessary to promote Q1 to “good quarto” status, where FMS and QMS share enough goofy transcribed text to resist the obvious inference that Q1 was one of a kind (before the reprints).

 

Scholarship needs well defined terminology: “Definitions are not true or false, but more or less useful or convenient. . . . [T]he concept merely provides us with the means of grasping the significance of certain phenomena and of thinking clearly about them” (Raymond Aron). Shakespeare scholarship seems rather to rely on a vague bad quarto concept to limit its significance; the literature is confused and confusing. Not all are confounded: Jowett refers to text primarily resulting from memorial transmission (full blown, as it were). That’s the only defining criterion of a bad quarto. Yet scholars allow Pollard’s unfortunate bad choice to treat a defined phrase as if it referred to value judgments, such as that Day at Black Rock, or LeRoy Brown. Arden3 notes, “Some designated Q1 a ‘bad’ quarto, though it was admittedly awfully ‘good’ to be ‘bad’” (420).

 

According to Jowett, the “value to be attributed [to Q1] needs careful negotiation.” His bargaining chip is Greg’s description of Q1 as “doubtful,” when Greg actually accepted the reported Q1 text as a ‘fact.’ “Thus Q is ‘doubtful’ because it is technically ‘bad’ but nevertheless of sufficiently high authority to disassociate itself from the category” (’98, 227). After Jowett, et al, promoted King Lear to ‘good quarto’ thirty-five years ago, Q1 R3 was “dangerously exposed as a unique member of an unsustainable class.” Jowett negotiates further by citing Laurie Maguire as having “decidedly rejected Q as a memorial text” (228). Although he mentions that Maguire reviews Q1 “only sketchily,” he later observes that “in her study evidence arising from comparison between texts is discounted entirely” and that “if one wishes to address in full the question of the transmission of Q and F, the variants between them are primary and unignorable data” (232). So much for decided dissociation, we should think. A “technically bad” text is a memorial report; it won’t “dissociate itself” any more than pronounce its own authority. If Q1 is a bad quarto, comparisons or not; it can’t be undefined by “bad” wordplay. This is not merely a matter of ignoring a definition; scholars miss the issues. Jowett’s rule: “Ultimately one cannot presume to eliminate one explanation unless others are more viable” (232). He changed his mind with his edition of Sir Thomas More, but that’s another story.

 

I expected Arden3 (Siemon) to argue against MR from a selection of Q1/F variants and their alternative explanations. Instead, the case is dispatched in a tweety footnote: “Q1 [R3] has never been entirely relegated to ‘bad’ quarto status . . . . Gary Taylor [‘81] calls it ‘far and away the best – that is, the most accurate and most complete – of the bad quartos’” (419).

 

Taylor understands the terminology; a bad quarto can be relatively accurate and complete; it needs only an interruptive stage of memorial transmission. The danger is (prematurely) to consider F the standard of accuracy (when it reprints Q1!) Many others “entirely relegated” Q1 to bad quarto standing, including Schmidt, Daniel, Hammond, Davison, Smidt, and Greg. The “bad” evidence is good; if their conclusions are faulty they were (almost) on the right track.

 

How does misunderstanding bad quarto affect the R3 scholarship? Hammond comments: “Argument has raged over which quarto or quartos were involved [in the F printing], but it is fairly clear that it was not Q1 . . . . Thus, all quartos save the first are derivative texts without independent authority, and any readings in F that originate in a derivative Q may be normally presumed to be errors.” But Q1 is also a derivative text; if it is a memorial report (as Hammond and I believe), it is second (at least) to its copy-text in a reproductive chain deprived of all written authority. A “huge number” of errors (differences) must be transmitted from Q1 to F. Why is it “fairly clear” that Q1 was not involved in F’s production? Shouldn’t the first edition of a bad quarto be judged by the same criteria as the rest of the series?

 

James K. Walton was a determined and influential Irish R3 specialist (d. 1998) who should still be read (though a reader’s impression that one so assertive must be right is best abandoned early.) He argued that Q3 was the sole quarto copy for F—that Q6 did not share the role. Along the way his commentary is often instructive. His opinion of Q1 is clear: “There can be seen in Q, when it is compared with F, many anticipations, recollections, and paraphrases, of the kind which suggests that its text was vulgarized by passing through a memorial stage. Though its quality is much worse than that of the ‘good’ quartos . . . it is much better than that of the quartos usually designated ‘bad’ . . . . This suggests that its text was reconstructed . . . by the company itself” (The Quarto Copy for the First Folio, 256). His orthodox opinion, by the definition he didn’t acknowledge, was that Q1 is an unusually good bad quarto. But his influential removal of Q1 from that status results in a mistaken perception of the evidence thoughtlessly accepted by all later scholars (even though they don’t agree with his other conclusions). I will try to explain.

 

Gerald E. Downs

 

 

 

From TLS - 'Uniter of his enemies'

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 27.026  Monday, 1 February 2016

 

From:        Hardy Cook <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         January 30, 2016 at 9:59:05 AM EST

Subject:    From TLS - 'Uniter of his enemies'

 

[Editor’s Note: The following appeared in a recent TLS. I will provide excerpts here; and if anyone wishes the entire article and does not have access to TLS, please contact me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. -Hardy]

 

http://www.the-tls.co.uk/tls/public/article1661190.ece

 

Richard III, uniter of his enemies

Reviewed by David Abulafia

David Horspool

RICHARD III

A ruler and his reputation

336pp. Bloomsbury. £20. 

978 1 4729 0299 3

Published: 27 January 2016

 

The century before the Battle of Bosworth was a bad time for the dynasties of Europe. From Poland to Portugal and from Sweden to Sicily kings and queens faced armed challenges to their authority from the greater nobility, generally led by their own close relatives. Usurpers abounded and often triumphed, with the result that we write the political history of the period as a series of success stories for rulers who might easily have failed to gain power – Henry VII at Bosworth, in 1485, Ferdinand and Isabella at Toro in 1476, Ferrante of Naples at Troia in 1462. Worse still, many of the major dynasties failed to maintain the line of succession; this was a disease-ridden period in which one royal prince after another died prematurely, while in several kingdoms, such as Naples under the vacillating Joanna II, the ruler remained childless.

 

Even when children were born, rivals for the crown flung accusations of illegitimacy at those best placed to succeed to the throne, most famously in the case of Queen Isabella of Castile, who ruthlessly exploited the accusation that her half-brother King Henry IV could not have fathered a daughter because he was apparently homosexual and therefore, supposedly, impotent. In Italy, if one could win the approval of Vatican City, illegitimacy was no bar to succession, as the troubled career of King Ferrante of Naples shows, though the shadow of French challenges lay over him and his successors, culminating in the French invasion of Naples in 1494–5. One of the major actors in those events was the ambitious and cultured duke of Milan, Ludovico il Moro, whose hold on power was consolidated by the untimely – or should one say timely? – death of his nephew and predecessor Giangaleazzo Sforza; and the accusation that Ludovico poisoned his way to the ducal throne still hangs in the air.

 

Ludovico has often been compared to his near contemporary, Richard III of England, and has been portrayed as a wicked uncle who, like Richard, developed to a high level the art of losing political friends when he needed them most. Over all these figures, Ferrante of Naples, Ludovico il Moro and Richard III, there hangs the question of how they justified in their own mind the killings that they reputedly fostered. There is a temptation to label the late fifteenth-century European rulers, in particular, as Machiavellians before Machiavelli.

David Horspool’s account of the life of Richard III, from his childhood (about which we know very little) to his death in battle (about which we now know a great deal, following the excavation of his skeleton by Dr Jo Appleby) raises these issues sensitively and thoughtfully. Even though the figure he describes is decidedly unattractive, Horspool shows appreciation for the attempts of the Richard III Society to steer away from the staunchly negative view of the king fostered by Thomas More and the Crowland chronicle. He stresses how, even more than Shakespeare, Laurence Olivier has fixed in the mind the image of a scheming devil, intent on clearing the way to the throne. This is true even when the blame lay elsewhere, as in the case of his endlessly rebellious brother the duke of Clarence. King Edward IV had suffered more than enough from Clarence’s disloyalty; but Clarence was condemned to death in the High Court of Parliament. By contrast, Shakespeare’s Richard is found muttering: “Simple plain Clarence, I do love thee so that I will shortly send thy soul to heaven”.

 

As for the Princes in the Tower, it is hard to see how Richard can be excused from their murder; as Horspool points out, Richard had the chance to parade the princes, if alive, or to show their bodies, if dead, and did neither; he could not afford to display a living Edward V, whose presence would undermine his own claim to the throne, despite his accusation that Edward was a bastard; and he could not admit to the scandalous murder of two children, his own nephews. One only has to look at Richard’s appalling record in executing rivals to see that he was addicted to purges: Earl Rivers, a member of the Woodville family into which Edward IV had married, was executed even before Richard seized the crown; Lord Hastings too was beheaded without trial; the long list of victims makes plain Richard’s determination to purge the English nobility of those who contested his claim to power. The evidence is silent on how his conscience dealt with this carnage.

 

This attempt to clear away all opposition was in reality his undoing. His most bizarre achievement was that he managed to bring together supporters of the house of Lancaster, loyal to the memory of King Henry VI, and of the house of York, loyal to the memory of King Edward IV. The death in childhood of his heir, Prince Edward, shattered Richard’s hope of establishing a line of succession, though he may well have planned to take as his second wife Elizabeth of York, his niece, a story brilliantly enhanced by Shakespeare. However, York and Lancaster were not the opposing sides at Bosworth Field; Henry Tudor had already brought together the white and the red rose before he became king and married Elizabeth of York. Dynastic exhaustion had set in, and precisely because he was a relatively minor figure Henry could be seen as a fresh beginning.

 

[ . . . ]

 

 

 

From TLS - 'Emotional stranglehold'

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 27.025  Monday, 1 February 2016

 

From:        Hardy Cook <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         January 30, 2016 at 9:49:32 AM EST

Subject:    From TLS - 'Emotional stranglehold'

 

[Editor’s Note: The following appeared in a recent TLS. I will provide excerpts here; and if anyone wishes the entire article and does not have access to TLS, please contact me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. -Hardy]

 

http://www.the-tls.co.uk/tls/reviews/arts_and_commentary/article1658308.ece

 

Emotions in stranglehold

Lucy Munro

William Shakespeare

CYMBELINE

 

William Shakespeare and George Wilkins

PERICLES

Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, until April 21

 

The current season in the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse deserts the intriguing Jacobean and Caroline curios of the previous two years for something more familiar. “Winter Shakespeare” presents four of the “late” plays – Pericles, Cymbeline, The Winter’s Tale and The Tempest – omitting the collaborations with John Fletcher that occupied Shakespeare’s final years: Henry VIII and The Two Noble Kinsmen. Part of the considerable allure of this season is the chance to see these plays by candlelight. The late plays are often associated with the indoor Blackfriars playhouse, used by the King’s Men in tandem with the outdoor Globe from late 1609 or early 1610. This is somewhat misleading, given that Pericles was first performed around 1607–08. However, there was probably little difference between the Globe and Blackfriars repertories in the 1610s; it is therefore perhaps unsurprising that Dominic Dromgoole’s Pericles feels wholly at home in the Wanamaker while, conversely, Sam Yates’s Cymbeline sometimes feels confined by it.

 

Both productions make use of the full auditorium in terms of their staging, repeatedly placing actors in the area in front of the stage and in the walkway leading to the foyer. However, the lighting for Cymbeline is more centred on the stage: most of the lights are placed on or above it, and in the first half a set of trays with candles act almost as conventional spotlights. The action thus feels more restricted, though this sensation is exploited to great effect in the battles of the second half, which constantly give the impression that they might explode beyond the stage’s confines.

 

One of the sternest challenges for a director staging Cymbeline is knowing quite what to do with its humour – are the characters in on the joke? Or are they blissfully unaware of their own potential absurdity? With its gleefully wicked stepmother, lost children and host of reversals and revelations, it is not always easy to know whether one is laughing at or with Cymbeline. And despite some striking moments, Yates’s production seems not yet to have worked out fully where it stands.

 

[ . . . ]

 

In contrast, Pericles emerges in Dromgoole’s vibrant production as a bravura piece of storytelling. It opens with the entire cast either on or around the stage, singing and talking to audience members. The cast then blow out the candles, and Sheila Reid’s kindly, bird-like Gower emerges from the trapdoor, taper in hand, to introduce the oppressive court of the incestuous king Antiochus (Simon Armstrong). The two storm scenes, the second of which separates Pericles (James Garnon) temporarily from his wife Thaisa (Dorothea Myer-Bennett) when she appears to die in childbirth, are staged with economy and flair. The first leaves Pericles tangled in rigging, suspended above the stage, in which undignified position he is found by the fishermen whose humour first helps to dispel the aura of Antiochus’s court. The second uses simple means – a plank thrust out from the stage into the auditorium, a sail stretched across the centre of the stage, a welter of drums and swaying actors – to support and sustain the raw emotion of Pericles’s reaction to Thaisa’s death.

 

Where the production succeeds most brilliantly, however, is in the scenes featuring Pericles and Thaisa’s daughter, Marina (Jessica Baglow). Carried away from certain death by a pack of energetic pirates, Marina is deposited in the brothel at Mytilene, where she proceeds to convert all its customers to “honest” behaviour, much to the disgust of Kirsty Woodward’s Bawd, Fergal McElherron’s Pander and Dennis Herdman’s Bolt. Woodward, McElherron and Herdman almost steal the show, riffing on Shakespeare and George Wilkins’s lines with easy confidence and creating an effortlessly sleazy backdrop for Marina’s miracles. Dromgoole also handles Marina’s conversion of the governor of Mytilene, Lysimachus (Steffan Donnelly), with a sure hand. Many recent productions of Pericles have distrusted the original text, in which Marina’s speeches are comparatively brief, and they have often supplemented it with material taken from Wilkins’s “novelization”, The Painful Adventures of Pericles, published in 1608, shortly before the play itself. In these adaptations, Marina is given far more to say, but her conversion of Lysimachus depends on her making herself abject: “O my good lord”, she tells him, “kill me but not deflower me / Punish me how you please but spare my chastity”. Although Dromgoole takes some four or five lines from Painful Adventures, Baglow’s Marina does not weep or abase herself; instead, she takes Lysimachus’s hand and then places her hand on his chest, a gesture that she repeats in her later conversion of Bolt. Crucially, Lysimachus is unusually young and, apparently, sexually inexperienced, and his response to Marina’s words and gestures is to collapse and sob violently.

 

[ . . . ]

 

 

 

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