The Shoemakers’ Holiday

“Mirth lengthneth long life.”

Thomas Dekker

Another Renaissance drama – aren’t these fun? The Shoemakers’ Holiday is considerably more riotous, though, than A Game at Chess, and a much more traditional piece of drama, as far as these things go. Today, then, will be another A-Z review.

Awesomeness: 7/10

Because…it’s funny, and full of energy, and anarchic, and generally lovely.

Colour: Orangey brown

Date: 1600, thereabouts.

Events: Rowland Lacie, son of the Earl of Lincoln, is in love with Rose, daughter of the Lord Mayor of London Roger Oteley. Their respective fathers (no mothers here, weirdly) decide for their own reasons to split them up, and Lacie is sent off to war in France. Lacie, however, disguises himself as Hans, a shoemaker, having learned the trade on his Grand Tour in Germany, and goes to work for Simon Eyre, a prince among shoemakers. He takes the opportunity of making shoes for the Oteleys to reveal himself to Rose, and they agree to get married secretly. In a subplot, Jane, whose shoemaker husband Rafe has been sent off to the war, is wooed by a gentleman who tells her Rafe is dead; she agrees to marry him, mainly to make him stop bothering her. The fathers of Rose and Lacie, having got wind of their plot, rush to the church to stop them – but one of the shoemakers sends them to the wrong church, to where Jane is getting married. They turn up just in time to witness Rafe’s triumphant return to claim his wife back, while Lacie and Rose have already married somewhere else. Meanwhile (this play has a lot of meanwhiles) Simon Eyre has been made Lord Mayor of London (I don’t know why) and calls a holiday for the shoemakers at which the King himself ratifies Rose and Lacie’s marriage, and everyone is happy. The End.

First line: “My Lord Maior, you have sundrie times”

Genre: Comedy

High point: The gloriously cheerful, anarchic scene at the end with the good-natured, merry shoemakers and the somewhat bemused King.

Interesting fact: The play only has a rating of 2.7 out of 5 on Amazon. This is clearly yet another indication that Amazon is wrong about everything.

Joke: “I marvel how many wives in Towerstreet are up so soon? Gods me, tis not noon.” (I didn’t say it was a witty play.) 

Killed: No-one! Hurrah!

Laughed at: The shoemakers. Or, rather, laughed with.

Musical: There are a couple of songs at the beginning, but not really in the main body of the play.

Number of scenes: 21 spread over 5 acts.

Obscurity: 6/10

Place: London

Quote: “Ill is the weather that bringeth no gaine,/Nor helps good hearts in neede.”

Role I’d play: Jane. Or Simon Eyre’s wife. Rose would be too dull and conventional.

Stolen from a prose tract (according to Wikipedia the Fount of All Knowledge) called The Gentle Craft by a Thomas Deloney.

Time: Probably contemporary to Dekker’s – so around 1600.

Unapologetically…anarchic.

Voiced in my head by: I can totally see Brian Blessed as Simon Eyre.

Would I see it in a theatre? Yes!

X: The Tenth Line: “To joyne a Lacie with an Otleys name?”

“Yes? Hello? What?” (The Snappy Quip): “Prince am I none, yet am I noblie borne, as being the sole sonne of a Shoomaker.”

Z: The Last Line: “Warres must right wrongs which Frenchmen have begun.”

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