Thursday, May 24, 2012

Punch and Judy at Weymouth

Hands up if you have ever seen a Punch and Judy show!  I have nearly always seen them at the seaside in Britain, pretty much as you see this one pictured here.  It is basically a glove puppet show with a formulaic and traditional story designed to get the audience, these days usually children, involved.  A "look behind you" sort of feverish yelling.

I wonder how many of the characters you can remember, Mr Punch, Judy his wife, the baby, the policeman..... don't forget the sausages!

Punch and Judy, or Joan as she was known in the early days, has been around a very long time. Originally showing up in marionette (puppet on strings) theatres, they gradually moved to  the narrow box like structure you see in the picture. Originally they might be covered with any kind of fabric, such as mattress ticking, but over time the red and white stripes became the stock in trade. The puppeteer works inside the box with the puppets appearing on the tiny stage and his bottler drawing the crowd and passing the hat for money.

In the Regency, you might have seen the show at a fair or on a street corner. Anywhere, in fact, that a crowd might gather and be convinced to part with a copper or two. But watch out for the ever present cutpurses.

I have quite a bit more to tell you about Weymouth, and in fact hadn't planned to talk about Punch and Judy at all. I had quite forgotten taking this picture, but when I saw it, I decided to talk about it instead. Oh, I think there was a hangman in it too.

Until next time, Happy Rambles.