Punch and Judy show suf­fers slings and ar­rows

Harefield Gazette - - OPINION -

NOW that Bill the Bard is all over the in­ter­net, we can un­earth his most fa­mous quotes in sec­onds, rather than plough­ing through pages of The Com­plete Shake­speare or phon­ing a lit­er­ary friend.

But there is noth­ing to com­pare with hear­ing the words spo­ken aloud, whether at Strat­ford-on-Avon, The Globe The­atre in Lon­don or at Pend­ley Manor, where we re­cently saw an out­door per­for­mance of The Tem­pest.

Sit­ting in glo­ri­ous sun­shine, lis­ten­ing to the beau­ti­fully crafted words, I was re­minded of how Shake­speare’s plays en­com­pass ev­ery­thing that is good and bad about mankind. If we delve deeply enough we can find a quote to match any oc­ca­sion. I thought of these lines from The Tem­pest: “You taught me lan­guage, and my profit on’t / Is, I know how to curse”, when I read about the Punch and Judy man, who has been suf­fer­ing abuse from au­di­ences in Wey­mouth.

It is ironic that a pup­pet show, which has been per­formed on seafronts in Bri­tain for 350 years, and has been more re­cently crit­i­cised for its non-pc vi­o­lence and do­mes­tic abuse, should be sub­ject to in­sults and stone-throw­ing. Of course, Shake­speare’s au­di­ences were not averse to hurl­ing a few fruity phrases, if not the odd tomato, if they didn’t like a char­ac­ter, but this was part of the show – they were join­ing in, not sneer­ing at it. These univer­sal themes have been touched on in lit­er­a­ture since peo­ple first started writ­ing down sto­ries that re­flected real life.

Shake­speare’s char­ac­ter Kate in The Tam­ing of the Shrew, like Punch’s brow-beaten wife Judy, is sub­jected to ex­treme misog­yny and abuse, but as a teenager watch­ing the for­mer and as a child watch­ing the lat­ter, I was not dis­turbed by the ag­gres­sion be­cause the abusers were por­trayed as pa­thetic char­ac­ters.

The bom­bas­tic Petru­chio, who goads Kate, and the ridicu­lous Mr Punch are a mil­lion miles away from char­ac­ters that lit­ter so called ‘vi­o­lence porn’ which is now classed as en­ter­tain­ment. There’s noth­ing to laugh about there, no re­lease from the ten­sion and no way to help us deal with the aw­ful things that men and women can do to each other.

I must re­port back to read­ers con­cerned about our daugh­ter’s cat who was spot­ted back in Uxbridge where we had been look­ing af­ter it. Thank good­ness the mog­gie, sighted by neigh­bours, was a dif­fer­ent Tom. Jan­gles was curled up hap­pily at home, many miles away!

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.