The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.2712  Monday, 3 December 2001

From:           Martin Steward <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Friday, 30 Nov 2001 17:01:56 -0000
Subject: "Comedy" of Lousy Acting
Comment:        SHK12.2699 The "Comedy" of Lousy Acting

Yes, OK, Shakespeare's not that funny (although Falstaff can still raise
a laugh, surely...?). But what about Jonson? I defy anyone not to fall
about at the sight of Zeal-of-the-land Busy sniffing the air like a
hound, leading his charges through Bartholomew Fair with their eyes
closed to protect themselves form the sinful sights it offers. And much
of the humour in The Alchemist derives from the spectacularly brilliant
plot rather than difficult puns or topical references. I saw a very good
production at the National in London about 5 years ago, starring Simon
Callow. Everyone cried tears of laughter, bloody great belly laughs, not
those annoying clever-dick chuckles at obscure (but old) Jacobean jokes.
Best of all, I sat two rows behind a group of schoolchildren who
enjopyed the play immensely: as the climactic scene played, and everyone
was wondering what had happened to Dapper (he disappears into the
outhouse to get a charm from "the Queen of Fairy" way back in Act I
someplace...) one of the kids could not hold back an anxious whisper,
"He's in the toilet!"

What more apt critical judgement of Jonsonian comedy could there be?
He's in the toilet, indeed...


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