WILTY? Audience Tickets Now Available

SRO have opened the ticket ballot for a chance to be in the studio audience for WILTY? Series 14. Obviously things will be a bit different this year. Here’s more information from the SRO website:

The new series of ‘Would I Lie To You?’ will be slightly different to a normal series. Our socially distanced audience will be watching the recording of each episode from one of three separate locations on the Pinewood site; some audience members will watch the show live in the studio and other audience members will view the show live via a screen in either the Pinewood cinema or a neighbouring studio. All audience members will be viewing the whole recording – the half hour show you see on TV is cut down from a 2 hour recording in the studio, so there will be lots more extra stuff to see than if you’re watching at home! As any previous WILTY audience-goer will tell you, the live recordings are really special.

The audience seating has been divided into ‘pods’ which are distanced from each other, and each pod comprises a different number of seats. We want to accommodate as many people in the main studio as possible based on the latest government guidelines, so we’ll prioritise groups according to who best fills each pod. We’re confident that you’ll have a brilliant night whether you’re watching in the main studio, the Pinewood cinema or the neighbouring studio.

The website also mentions that masks must be worn at all times. You can apply for tickets below. Do bear in mind that it’s notoriously difficult to get hold of WILTY? Tickets at the best of times! This series records throughout October. Good Luck.

https://www.sroaudiences.com/

An Undeniably Great Episode of British Comedy – Peep Show: Threeism

Everybody’s got their own idea of the greatest Peep Show episode, whether it’s Mark’s Wedding, University Challenge, Quantocking, Jeremy Makes It, The William Morris Years or ‘the one where Jeremy eats the dog.’ You could make an excellent case for giving any of these the title of the greatest Peep Show episode, but there’s one in particular that has a special place in my heart and it involves eye shadow, yes, it’s Threeism.

The episode sees Mark finally track down April, the girl from the shoe shop, with whom he fell hopelessly in love with way back in series 2, whilst she fitted him for some new shoes (“Could get brown brogues? Best stick to black, don’t want to go completely mental.”). He plans to ‘steal her’ from her husband by inviting her to a dinner party that he’s hastily hosting, which, by no coincidence will only be attended by himself and April. Meanwhile, Jez has ended up in the ridiculous situation of dating both Megan, a woman who he’s supposed to be ‘life coaching’ and her boyfriend, Joe, or playing ‘genital Jenga’ as he so ‘chivalrously’ describes it.

After many series spent on Mark’s relationships with both Sophie and Dobby, it was interesting that series 9 threw the ultimate curve ball in bringing back April – a one-off love interest of Mark’s from the episode, University Challenge. As surprising as her return was, revisiting the episode you can definitely see that the pair had wonderful chemistry, even to the point that it was a bit heart-breaking when he walked away. Mark thinks, “This is OK. This is just a moment that will haunt me forever.” as April unknowingly disappears from his life.

But now April’s back! Mark’s finally found ‘the one’ again, so what could possibly go wrong? Everything naturally. She’s now a successful author and is also married, which presents a huge problem for Mark. Unperturbed by this setback he comes up with the useless dinner party plan to win her affections. As preparations for the dinner continue, things become more and more surreal, in what surely must be British Comedy’s greatest modern farce since The IT Crowd’s, The Work Outing.

Peep Show has always been masterful at presenting fairly normal situations that quickly crescendo into a cacophony of weirdness. As with all classic sitcom episodes the script and the actors are working in perfect harmony here; it’s no surprise as Peep Show writers, Sam Bain and Jesse Armstrong have been working with David Mitchell and Robert Webb for many years. They know how to write for them, and it’s clear that only Mitchell & Webb could have pulled off a script like this. In less capable hands this episode wouldn’t have worked. But somehow everything from Jez convincing Mark to allow him to write ‘Love you’ on his eye lids (in a somewhat obscure call back to a scene in Indiana Jones) to Mark moulding some dairylea cheese with his bare hands before flecking it with a biro in order to create a ‘tasty young stilton’ just lands perfectly.

The dinner party plan turns into a complete nightmare for Mark when April calls him to say she’s bringing along her husband, Angus, played by Angus Wright (he’s Angus through and through). Even by Peep Show standards he is a bizarre character, when it’s revealed he cheated on April he tells Mark: ‘As Penance I went to live with the monks on Mount Athos for three months.’ April chimes in: ‘Apparently he lived on dry bread and goat’s milk, but when I picked him up I found a lot of Nutella jars in his recycling.’.

Jeremy’s attempt to look intelligent up against Angus was another highlight in an episode almost entirely composed of highlights: ‘Did Jesus have a cat? If you don’t know just say.’

Probably the best scene in the whole episode is Mark contemplating an entire evening where he won’t allow himself to blink due to the love message on his eyelids Jez had scrawled on earlier using a permanent marker, although, when his back is turned, he does manage to snatch a few blinks.

‘Ahhh, lovely, lovely blink. Enjoy it. Last one of the night.’

There’s an utter delight in watching this scene – Mark standing there, eyes wide open offering a glass of Rum, water, lettuce, vinegar and salt; taking a sip himself and then fighting back the desperate urge to blink!

Of course, Mark only made enough food for two people for his dinner party façade, so confronted with entertaining April’s husband he panics and makes ‘Moroccan Pasta!’ A dish you can make for yourself with old eggs, lettuce, baked beans, bread and fresh pasta. No seriously, there have been a few fan reworks of this recipe over the years, not least this amazing one by Youtuber Babish:

And this one from illustrator, Daniel Nash, who created these incredible Bake-off inspired drawings of Mark’s dinner party menu. ‘Look who’s won the lettuce lottery!’

The amount of fan art and general outpouring of love for this episode is almost unmatched. Although ‘four naans’ does give it a run for its money. You could spend all day quoting lines from this episode and you’d almost comprise the entire script – it’s that good, and could only really be called an ‘Undeniably Great Episode of Comedy’. Pour yourself a glass of Ribena, settle down to some scribbled cheddar and enjoy.

Thanks for reading and if you fancy reading some more comedy-themed ramblings, then why not check out my Comedy Blog: https://thatcomedyfan.wordpress.com/

Upstart Crow Facts – Series 2 Episode 4: Food of Love

A very affectionate look at Upstart Crow by @Chasqui Penguin

Each episode has a theme, usually revolving around one of Will’s plays, and in this series of articles our aim is to give a little more background to those and the Upstart Crow storyline surrounding it, together with the facts, deliberate anachronisms, and the characters involved.

Series 2

Episode 4 – Food of Love

The title of this episode is from the opening line of Twelfth Night and is part of a quote by Orsino, Duke of Illyria:

If music be the food of love, play on…

However, there is little else of Twelfth Night in this episode as Food of Love revolves around musician Thomas Morley and Will’s alleged invention of musicals, based on an early Shakespeare play The Comedy of Errors – his shortest and most farcical – the first recorded performance of which was on 28th December 1594, in London’s Gray’s Inn Hall and was part of the Christmas festivities.

The episode begins in Stratford when Will is visiting the family and learns that Susanna is a fan of Thomas Morley and loves the popular madrigals he writes. However, her father does not rate him highly! Whether all this is likely is open to speculation but it works within this storyline.

Back in London, Will reveals that on the coach he has written the first draft of another historical play Edward II but it needs much work. Kit, sitting across the table from him, has the answer to save him extra work: “Give the play to me. I’ll just chuck it on as is. I’m not proud.”However, Will refuses as he wants the credit for his own writing. In reality, this play was not written by William Shakespeare but by Christopher Marlowe who, with the near-perfection of his playwriting, probably agonised over each word of the blank verse, going over and over it and making amendments. It is a somewhat controversial drama which debuted, probably in 1592 at The Theatre, with Richard Burbage playing Edward II. This was unusual as most of Marlowe’s plays were first staged at The Rose with Edward Alleyn in the lead male role.

Will has also been working on another much lighter play which he has entitled A Comedy of Mistakes, Misunderstandings and Coincidences and which Kate feels is contrived. The story revolves around twins who share the same name, as do their twin servants. Each twin is separated from his brother at birth, but they all meet up later in life and are mistaken for each other by their respective girlfriends. Kate is of the opinion that a new form of theatre is needed, one which “appeals directly to the senses, the emotions, the soul”, but Will is stuck as he feels no such new form exists.

To cheer themselves up, Kate, Kit and Bottom start singing a Thomas Morley song, Now is the Month of Maying,then, as obvious fans, they list a few more of his well-known madrigals:

April is in My Mistress’ Face

My Bonny Lass She Smileth

Flora, Wilt Thou Torment Me?

Initially annoyed by this interruption while he is writing, Will suddenly realises that he has found that new format – music.

At The Red Lion the actors are disapprovingly discussing Will’s violent Titus Andronicus, a play they are rehearsing. During this Will arrives and tells them his idea for musical theatre. Although Burbage and Condell are excited by this, Kempe is less than enthusiastic. Will explains that initially he considered new songs being written but then came up with another idea and, with Burbage almost reading Will’s mind, the “greatest hits musical” is born using the madrigals of Thomas Morley, the most famous songwriter of the age. Of course, musicals as we know them today do not date back to Shakespeare or his era but evolved over later centuries. However, it seems very likely that music was featured in some of his plays, including compositions by Thomas Morley.

Will and Burbage visit Thomas Morley at his home to explain this new art form to him and offer him the chance to make his madrigals part of it. The musician turns out to be much like a stereotypical 20th/21st century rock star, with a London accent as opposed to his native Norfolk, and probably as far removed from the historical Thomas Morley as comedy could get! To Will’s dismay, they find he is not keen on the deal unless the musical focuses on him. Will had not envisaged writing the script around the celebrity but, after persuasion from Burbage, he concedes. Thomas Morley, “a one-man hit factory”, to use his own description of himself, then agrees to the venture as he will be the main character after whom their musical Norwich Boy will be named, at his suggestion. The real Thomas Morley was a composer of religious music, choirmaster and church organist at both Norwich Cathedral, in his home town, and St Paul’s in London. However, he also wrote over 50 songs/madrigals which were very popular during his lifetime, many still performed today, and in 1597 his book A Plaine and Easie Introduction to Practicall Musicke was published.

The title page of Thomas Morley’s book
A Plaine and Easie Introduction to Practicall Musicke

Back at his lodgings, Will is outlining the story of the musical, based on the latest comedy he is writing. This follows The Comedy of Errors we know today, whereby twins, both called Antipholus, and their twin servants, both called Dromio, all originally from Syracuse, were separated at birth following a shipwreck. One of each set of twins is believed to have drowned but years later the surviving brothers go in search of them. Happily, they did survive, having been rescued, taken to Ephesus and brought up in the court of its duke, Solinus, and the four young men are reunited. The play’s comedy centres on puns, slapstick and mistaken identities, revolving around both sets of identical twins. Will’s plan is to give Thomas Morley a twin brother called Tommy and for the musical to mirror his play, with the addition of a number of Morley’s madrigals which will already be known to the audience. Kate is keen for him to include a line he wrote which would be apt in this production: If music be the food of love… and Will takes up reciting it:

If music be the food of love, play on;
Give me excess of it, that, surfeiting,
The appetite may sicken, and so die.
That strain again! it had a dying fall:
O, it came o’er my ear like the sweet sound
That breathes upon a bank of violets,

Stealing and giving odour!…

Both Kate and Bottom think he should leave it at the first line, Bottom even telling Will that he ruins so much by going on and on! In actual fact, Shakespeare used this speech in Twelfth Night, written circa 1601 and first performed at the Middle Temple, one of London’s Inns of Court (the four law schools), on 2nd February 1602.

Meanwhile, news of the musical has reached the ears of Robert Greene, who is against such a form of entertainment with the potential to make Will successful. He meets with fellow writers Thomas Kyd, Thomas Nashe and Edmund Spenser to try to thwart Will’s theatrical plan. It is almost certain that Greene would have known his guests but they would have been younger than depicted in this episode, having been born in 1558, 1567 and 1552 respectively.

Rehearsals for Norwich Boy go well,with Thomas Morley providing keyboard accompaniment. The very successful first night of the musical at The Red Lion ensues, and there is every likelihood that it will run for a very long time. Will and friends adjourn to Lucy’s tavern to celebrate. However, there is a fly in the ointment in the shape of Robert Greene who arrives with the news that their first night will also be their last as the musical has been cancelled. He then explains that it is not the type of production to be associated with a gentleman, before quickly quashing Will’s impression that he, the writer of the musical, falls into the category of a gentleman. At this point Thomas Morley walks in and announces that he’s “pulling the gig” and they can’t use his songs. This is surprising considering his enthusiasm at the first performance earlier that evening. Greene then reintroduces him as “Sir Tommy”, recently knighted by Queen Elizabeth for his charity work, which the musician claims to have “done a lot of”. Morley is obviously proud of his new title, showing his approval by saying, “Very nice, very tasteful, loving that”. Keen comedy fans may recall this as a slight variation on an oft-repeated statement by Ronnie (also a musician) in Ben Elton’s sitcom Blessed.

There is no record of the real Thomas Morley having ever been knighted. In his era, this accolade was not extended to the arts world. Had it been, we would no doubt be referring to Sir William Shakespeare, especially as his plays were very popular with both Queen Elizabeth I and her successor King James I.

Accepting that his musical is at an end after one night, Will suggests to Burbage that the acting company puts on his Comedy of Mistakes, Misunderstandings and Coincidences as a play instead. Burbage is in agreement, in the absence of any other offers, and succinctly describes the humorous drama as a comedy of errors. Will is impressed with this and decides to call it A Comedy of Mistakes, Misunderstandings, Coincidences and Errors. As we know, however, it is actually entitled The Comedy of Errors.

Back home in Stratford, Will has brought a present for Susanna – a shirt given to him by Thomas Morley who has autographed it. Instead of being delighted, Susanna is unimpressed, revealing that she is no longer a Thomas Morley fan because “He sold out…He did a musical”!

Later, during their late-night chat, Anne tells Will that he is ahead of his time with the invention of musicals. While he didn’t actually invent musicals, it is true to say that with the various adaptations of Shakespeare’s plays, performed on stages across the world, some have been musical versions, so his dramatic skills have inspired this addition to many of his famous works.

As a footnote: For a brief background on the life of Thomas Morley, you may like to check out my Facts List on him via this link: https://adoseofdavidmitchell.wordpress.com/2019/03/

The next Facts List will delve into the writing of The Taming of the Shrew and the apparent first use of the word “feisty”.

Twitter: @ChasquiPenguin

Upstart Crow Facts – S2 Episode 3 I Did Adore a Twinkling Star

A very affectionate look at Upstart Crow by @ChasquiPenguin.

Each episode has a theme, usually revolving around one of Will’s plays, and in this series of articles my aim is to give a little more background to those and the Upstart Crow storyline surrounding it, together with the facts, deliberate anachronisms, and the characters involved.

Series 2

Episode 3 – I Did Adore a Twinkling Star

This episode is based on The Two Gentlemen of Verona (not 17!), which is one of Shakespeare’s early plays and may have been his first – believed to have been written between 1588 and 1593. There is no confirmed date for its stage debut but a performance of the play is mentioned in the 1598 book Palladis Tamia by Francis Meres who studied Shakespeare’s early plays and poems.

The title of this episode is spoken by one of the main characters Proteus, in Act 2, Sc 6 of The Two Gentlemen of Verona:

‘At first I did adore a twinkling star

But now I worship a celestial sun’

The words refer to his change of heart. When he set off from Verona, he was in love with his girlfriend Julia. However, when setting eyes on Silvia, daughter of the Duke of Milan, he fell in love with her. Adding to the complication, his best friend Valentine is also in love with Silvia.

In Will’s lodgings Kit Marlowe reveals that he is being sent on a spying mission to Verona by Walsingham and is expected to learn some Italian first, while Kate makes disparaging remarks about Marlowe and his lifestyle. This paves the way for the plot which cleverly hinges on The Two Gentlemen of Verona, though in reality none of this is likely to have happened because:

  • Kit Marlowe would have been sworn to secrecy regarding his spying activities, due to their clandestine nature, though it is still not known for sure if he was part of Queen Elizabeth’s spy ring, led by her Spy Master Sir Francis Walsingham. However, it is certain that Kit spent time in Rheims, during his student days, working for the English government, as revealed in a letter to Cambridge University from the Privy Council. This led to the assumption that Kit was involved in espionage.
  • This Upstart Crow episode must be set no earlier than 1592 (as this was the year of the first episode) but Sir Francis Walsingham died in April 1590, so any spying instructions would have come from either Robert Cecil or the Earl of Essex, who were vying to become the Spy Master.

Having discovered that Kate speaks fluent Italian, Will suggests that she teaches the language to Kit. In the meantime, Will travels to Stratford to write his new historical bloodthirsty play which, according to Robert Greene, had been requested by the Lord Chamberlain, for whom Greene works as his secretary. However, the real Robert Greene never held such a role, nor any other top job, but made a career of writing.

The Lord Chamberlain, Henry Carey, 1st Baron of Hunsdon, was patron of The Lord Chamberlain’s Men, a theatrical troupe with which Shakespeare was closely associated as both an actor and a playwright. Therefore, the Lord Chamberlain would have had a say in the plays which his troupe performed.

Back home in Stratford, Will discovers that his daughter Susanna is keen on a boy called Darren who has so far failed to ask her to the Springtime Woodland Gadabout. Will comes up with an ingenious plan which, of course, involves cross-dressing – something his father regards as a pattern in his plays, though Will denies this. Will suggests that Susanna dresses as her (invented) cousin Shane from Solihull who will get to know Darren and convince him to ask Susanna to the Gadabout. Although these boys’ names are popular today, they are unlikely to have been used in the Tudor era. However, a version of Shane appears in the Bible, though the name is also considered of Irish origin.

Cross-dressing is not unusual in Shakespeare’s plots, notably in Twelfth Night, As You Like It and The Two Gentlemen of Verona. However, one reason given for this is that girls’ roles were always played by boys, often young teenagers, and if in the play a girl had to dress as a boy, it would make playing the part easier for the young actor.

Returning to London, Will has a disappointment when he takes the manuscript of his new play Titus Andronicus to Robert Greene. Finding Will has written a violent historical drama, Greene informs him that the Lord Chamberlain wants the opposite, a romantic comedy, and claims he must have mistakenly misled Will into thinking a bloody, historical play was requested. Will realises he has been tricked by Greene, then goes back to his lodgings to work on a light-hearted comedy.

Interestingly, although Titus Andronicus is known to have been performed by The Lord Chamberlain’s Men at Newington Butts in June 1594, the first recorded performance was at The Rose on 24th January 1594, acted by the Earl of Sussex’s theatre troupe. There is also a school of thought which believes that Shakespeare had a co-writer for this play and, while Marlowe has been largely dismissed because the standard of writing is not good enough, Greene’s name has loomed large as a possibility!

Meanwhile, in London, Kate has reluctantly taken on the task of teaching Kit Italian, with great success, preparing him for his trip to Verona and the time he will spend with Contessa Silvia who is a secret agent with a list of Catholic assassins to pass on to him. However, the real Christopher Marlowe is believed to have been a multi-linguist. He spoke fluent Latin, translated from it into English and is thought to have had more than a passing knowledge of a number of other languages. It is likely Italian was among them as it is very closely related to Latin, though each region spoke its own dialect (still common today, well over a century after all the regions were unified into the country of Italy), and it is possible that communication between Kit and his associates in Europe was entirely in Latin.

As the Italian lessons draw to a close, Kate and Kit find that, against all odds, they have fallen in love. He is reluctant to leave her, but the ship to Verona sails that night and he is to meet his spy ring colleague Valentine in the tavern.

Back at his lodgings, Will is convinced he has the capability of writing a comedy despite the doubt expressed by Kate and Bottom. He admits that he has written only comic scenes and not a full comedy play, but to prove his claim he refers to his previous inclusion of hilarious names such as Doll Tearpants, which is an Upstart Crow variation on Doll (Dorothy) Tearsheet in Henry IV Part II. Perhaps he should be considered a forerunner of Dickens in this wild and amusing names department!

Chatting to Kate and Bottom, Will is not too pleased to hear that she and Kit are in love and tries his best to convince her that it is a doomed love as Kit would never be faithful to her, but she refuses to believe him.

In Lucy’s tavern Kit introduces Will to Valentine, his sidekick who immediately retaliates by claiming Kit is his sidekick. It is obvious that they are not best friends. Will has a chat to Kit and threatens to write ‘a pretty stern sonnet’ if he breaks Kate’s heart, though Kit claims to have changed his bad-boy ways. Lucy offers Kit a bunch of roses for Kate, but he refuses these, explaining that he suffers with the summer snottage (i.e. hay fever) and roses in particular make his eyes water. As far as my knowledge extends, there are no records to indicate whether or not Kit suffered with hay fever, but it seems unlikely as it is an affliction more common today, partly caused by our modern environment. Centuries ago people who survived to adulthood generally had a very robust immune system and were therefore less affected by allergic reactions. Let’s hope the real Kit wasn’t allergic to roses, as most of his plays were performed at London’s Rose playhouse in his lifetime!

The Rose playhouse (owned by Philip Henslowe), not The Globe as shown here – part of the Visscher Panorama, an etching by Claes Visscher, first published in Amsterdam in 1616

Kit returns to Kate to say goodbye. They are looking out of the window together and Kate quotes these words:

‘Oh, how this spring of love resembleth

The uncertain glory of an April day

Which now shows all the beauty of the sun

And by and by a cloud takes all away’

Kit is impressed by the poetry, and Kate admits that the lines were written by ‘Mr Shakespeare’. In fact, they appear in Act 1, Sc 3 of The Two Gentlemen of Verona, spoken by Proteus.

After this Kate and Kit exchange love tokens – she gives him her grandmother’s communion ring, while he hands her his grandfather’s nipple ring which he has to remove from within his clothing first. She is not exactly delighted by this gift.

Kit has left for Verona and Will, despite his efforts, is having trouble concentrating on writing a comedic play about parted lovers ‘in an exotic foreign location’, as Kate is pining because she is parted from her lover ‘who has gone off to an exotic foreign location’. Then he realises Kate and Kit are the inspiration. Before long, Will, Kate and Bottom have arrived in Verona. While there is no evidence one way or the other, it is generally believed that the real William Shakespeare never travelled abroad, acquiring his knowledge of other lands by speaking to people who had travelled and from books.

Events in Verona do not go to plan, as Kit’s infidelity there kills Kate’s love for him. Back in the familiar surroundings of Will’s London lodgings, Kit and Kate agree that they were not made for each other, as he recovers from the black eye and other wounds she inflicted on him. However, he is grateful for her keen observation in noting the Catholic wedding arrangements Silvia requested on accepting Valentine’s proposal, thus proving the contessa was not a Protestant, as she had claimed, but a double agent. Kit admitted to not pointing all this out to Valentine!

However, none of this deters Will in his writing, as he decides that instead of one wedding for Valentine and Silvia, he will write of a double wedding for the two best friends and their true loves in his play.

This ending for the play displeases Kate because one of the protagonists had been unfaithful to his sweetheart and should not have been forgiven and, even less, rewarded with marriage to the once-abandoned girl. Kate’s summing up of The Two Gentlemen of Verona, ‘Honestly, it is not going to be one of your best’,rings true as it is often considered one of Shakespeare’s weakest plays. However, this romantic comedy did pave the way for the development of themes which Shakespeare used in some of his later dramas. It is obvious he drew heavily from various works of literature available at the time, weaving his own story around these – a trick he was to use time and time again in the future.

Back in Stratford the second storyline, with just a vague link to Julia/Sebastian in The Two Gentlemen of Verona, comes to a conclusion with another cross-dressing scenario having taken place. Much against her better judgement, Susanna did dress up as her cousin Shane and got to know Darren. However, it was futile as Darren didn’t ask Susanna to the Woodland Gadabout, but he did fall in love with her as Shane!

As to whether the list of assassins was ever passed to Kit or Valentine by Silvia is left to viewers’ imaginations, along with the stern sonnet which Will threatened to write if Kit broke Kate’s heart, and despite his Italian lessons, it seems Kit used only English in Verona!

PARALLELS AND DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THE TWO GENTLEMEN OF VERONA AND UPSTART CROW’S I DID ADORE A TWINKLING STAR

PLAY

The two gentlemen of Verona, Proteus and Valentine, are best friends. Valentine decides to travel, but Proteus is so in love with Julia that he doesn’t want to be parted from her so opts to stay in Verona to be near her. Valentine reaches the court of the Duke of Milan, who makes him very welcome, and soon falls in love with the duke’s daughter Silvia.

UPSTART CROW

While I Did Adore a Twinkling Star is based on The Two Gentlemen of Verona, it does not follow the story fully, though Kit represents Proteus and Valentine parallels his namesake in the play. Kit and Valentine are not even friends, let alone best friends, more rivals in the spy ring.

PLAY

Proteus is then sent by his father on business to the court of the Duke of Milan but before leaving Verona exchanges rings with his true love Julia, a mark of their love commitment to each other.

UPSTART CROW

Kit and Valentine travel to Verona together from England on a spying mission to meet Contessa Silvia who has a list for them of Catholic assassins. Although Kit and Kate exchange rings as love tokens, theirs are not as romantic as the rings exchanged by Proteus and Julia.

PLAY

At the Duke of Milan’s court Proteus finds Valentine and learns that he is in love with the duke’s daughter. On meeting her, Proteus also falls in love with her, abandoning his feelings for Julia, even though he realises he is now his best friend’s rival for Silvia’s hand.

UPSTART CROW

Once in Verona, Kit proves Will’s view that he has a wandering eye, as he abandons his love for Kate and becomes Valentine’s rival for Silvia.

PLAY

Silvia’s father wishes her to marry Thurio, whom she doesn’t love, so she suggests to Valentine that they elope.

UPSTART CROW

In Upstart Crow there is no Thurio equivalent, nor thought of elopement.

PLAY

Jealous of Valentine who has Silvia’s love, Proteus tells the duke of the couple’s elopement plans. When Valentine is discovered with a rope ladder, he is banished from the court but is captured by a band of noble outlaws who make him their captain.

UPSTART CROW

No band of outlaws features in the Upstart Crow plot.

PLAY

Meanwhile Julia, dressed as a pageboy called Sebastian, has followed Proteus.

UPSTART CROW

Kate, dressed as a boy, travels to Verona with Will and Bottom to be nearer to Kit.

PLAY

Proteus and Sebastian meet up but he doesn’t recognise this young boy as Julia. He asks the pageboy to declare his love for Silvia and to give her a ring – it is the very ring Julia gave him, which of course she recognises. She does not offer it to Silvia, later telling Proteus she forgot.

UPSTART CROW

Due to his blurred vision caused by the summer snottage, Kit fails to recognise Kate, and, believing she is a boy, employs her as his servant, asking her to give Silvia the communion ring Kate gave him.

PLAY

Silvia sets off in search of Valentine but is captured by the same band of outlaws. She is rescued by Proteus who then tries to force himself on her but she resists and is then rescued from Proteus by Valentine.

UPSTART CROW

There are no parallels with this scene in Upstart Crow.

PLAY

The two young men argue over Silvia and all is overheard by Julia, dressed as Sebastian though still wearing the commitment ring. She mistakenly believes that Valentine wishes to give Silvia to Proteus.

UPSTART CROW

Although there is tension between Kit and Valentine, Kate is unaware of this.

PLAY

When Proteus sees Sebastian he recognises the ring and realises that the boy is Julia in disguise. She confirms her identity, producing the other ring, which she failed to give to Silvia, and Proteus has a revival of love for Julia and forgets Silvia.

UPSTART CROW

Rather than present Silvia with the communion ring, Kate opts to give her the nipple ring and Kit, who is secretly watching, instantly recognises it and sees through Kate’s disguise. With Kate removing her boy’s hat and shaking her hair loose, Kit’s love for her is rekindled.

PLAY

Following threats from Valentine, Thurio willingly gives up Silvia as he has never loved her. Silvia’s father agrees to her marrying Valentine and, with Proteus and Julia now reconciled, a double wedding is arranged.

UPSTART CROW

With Valentine appearing and proposing to Silvia who accepts, Kit then asks Kate to give him her hand. She agrees and punches him! Silvia misinterprets this as Kate’s agreement to marriage and immediately calls for the priest, candles and incense, assuming there will be a twin wedding. However, no double wedding will take place, as Kate has emphatically turned Kit down.

The first page of The Two Gentlemen of Verona from Shakespeare’s First Folio published in 1623

In the next Facts List, we shall meet Thomas Morley and learn about the apparent origin of musicals!

Twitter: @ChasquiPenguin

David Mitchell Stars in The Dark Room

Here’s a lockdown treat, The Dark Room has emerged online! This short film, written by Toby Davis stars Mathew Baldwin and David Mitchell. It also features Miles Jupp and Tom Allen. The film premiered at film festivals back in 2015 but has been rather hard to find since then. However, it may have been quietly posted on Vimeo some years ago without many people realising it was there!

This is a fantastic mini movie and I particularly enjoyed David’s mysterious ‘smart man’. No spoilers from me! But, Inside No. 9 fans will love this I’m sure! Hopefully we can spread the word and get more people to see it. Enjoy!