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  • Title: Additional Footnotes to An Humorous Day's Mirth
  • Author: Eleanor Lowe
  • ISBN: 978-1-55058-513-1

    Copyright Digital Renaissance Editions. This text may be freely used for educational, non-profit purposes; for all other uses contact the Editor.
    Author: Eleanor Lowe
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    Additional Footnotes to An Humorous Day's Mirth

    Lord and Ladies

    In Scene 8, Lemot directs his welcome at TLN 1293-1294 to the King, Florila and Martia; however, it is unclear whether the royal party appears on stage at this point, either at one of the doors or as they pass across the stage to the inward parlour. Alternatively Lemot could be speaking to the party offstage, perhaps through one of the doors. This seems more feasible since although Jaques indicates the party by saying ‘here is a gentleman ... ‘ (TLN 1286), Lemot then directs Jaques to hide them in the inward parlour in return for payment, suggesting that they have not yet appeared onstage.

    35If the King and ladies enter the stage at ‘See where they come’ (TLN 1293), they only have Lemot’s short welcome, less than two lines, during which to traverse the stage and leave again. This latter staging option also raises the issue of whether the other characters on stage notice; perhaps they are so absorbed in their cards that they do not observe passage of the little party across the stage. However, if the card players were positioned as suggested, the King’s party would have to pass across the front of the stage either before or behind the stage posts, to put as much space as possible between themselves and the card players, who include Labesha, the tell-tale gull, and Foyes, Martia’s father.

    When designated in the text, ‘passing over the stage’ can either mean moving across the frons from one door to the other or a more lengthy procession down to the front of the stage and back up to the other door, ‘a sweep using the full breadth of the stage’.[23] In Every Man out of His Humour, 4.2 opens with a stage direction which reads: ‘Enter Deliro with Macilente, speaking as they pass over the stage’, for an exchange totalling eight prose lines. They might pass across the back or round the front, or experiment with pace, to allow them time to speak all allocated lines before exiting.

    It must also be remembered that the King is disguised (TLN 1295) and probably the two women also, so perhaps the card players would not recognise the party. Several of the characters attending the ordinary are doing so against the wishes of their spouses or parents, therefore creating a very amusing comic effect if the King and women were paraded before the others’ noses. Lemot’s language and the fact that he addresses the royal party directly possibly indicate that they do appear onstage and pass across it. They don’t speak because they don’t want to get caught: Martia is walking past her father, and Florila, as a strict Puritan, would not want to be seen in such a place. A modern director could experiment with the various options.