Staging the Henrician Court : The Boy

This page last changed on Dec 07, 2009 by Eleanor Rycroft.

Cannot resolve external resource into attachment.'Alas, poor boy, who sent thee hither?' (Merry Report)

The stage directions on the entrance of Little Dick, the only suitor to be named in the play, stipulate that the performer should be 'the lest that can play', which might indicate the inclusion of this role in order to elicit the sympathies of the audience. Certainly, part of the pleasure derived from the character during the August 2009 performances was due to the child's successful memorisation of his lines and the non-political nature of his request in comparison to the adult characters.

The accumulation of food metaphors around this part was noteworthy however. Not only does the Boy provide the critic with some of the most compelling evidence for production of the original play in a Dining Hall, saying that he has heard that Jupiter has come from heaven, "Thys nyght to suppe here wyth my lorde" (line 1027), he also construes the dynamic of petitioning to the God as a nourishing act, claiming that those who sue, "shall sure have theyr bellyes full/ Of all wethers, who lyst to crave" (lines 1029-30). Further, when Merry Report relays the suits of the petitioners to Jupiter, he states that the Boy made his request "full gredely!" (line 1103). This might point either to the banqueting hall setting and perhaps the presence of food during the performance, or to the status of boys in the early Tudor period, giving a corporeal as well as temporal meaning to the name 'Little Dick'.

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