Five Plays in One (Admiral's)

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Anon. Play Titles A (1597)
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Historical Records

Performance Records (Henslowe's Diary)


F. 26 (Greg I, p. 51)

Aprelle 1597
7 ne.. tt at v playes in one. . . . . . . . . . 02|01|00 — 18 — 01


F. 26v (Greg I, p. 52)

Aprell 1597
15 tt at v playes in one. . . . . . . . . . 01|08|02 — 00 — 00
20 tt at v playes in one. . . . . . . . . . 00|19|00 — 07 — 01
25 tt at v playes in one. . . . . . . . . . 01|13|01 — 00 — 00
Maye 1597
6 tt at v playes in one. . . . . . . . . . 00|16|00 — 03 — 00
14 tt at v playes in one. . . . . . . . . . 00|07|00 — 00 — 00
23 tt at v playes in one. . . . . . . . . . 01|00|03 — 00 — 01

F. 27 (Greg I, p. 53)

June 1597
10 tt at v playes in one. . . . . . . . . . 00|11|03 — 01 — 00
28 tt at v playes in one. . . . . . . . . . 01|00|00 — 13 — 11


F. 27v (Greg I, p. 54)

July 1597
27 tt at v playes in one. . . . . . . . . . 00|14|03 — 14 — 00




Theatrical Provenance

The Admiral's men introduced "Five Plays in One" at the Rose playhouse as a new ("ne") play, and there is no evidence to suggest that it had a stage life after its maiden run ended.


Probable Genre(s)

Unknown (Harbage); Anthology (Wiggins #1063)


Possible Narrative and Dramatic Sources or Analogues

Collier considered this play as well as Three Plays in One and Four Plays in One to be a grouping of playlets offered for "variety" and not necessarily "connected in subject" (22, n5). He considered the "Five Plays in One" put on (with Three Plays in One by the Queen's men in 1584-5) to belong to this group, but he did not lump the Admiral's 1597 play with the Queen's 1584-5 one despite the identical title, nor did he suggest the narratives possibly dramatized in any of these plays.

Fleay appears therefore to have begun the lumping not only of "Five Plays in One" with Richard Tarlton and the plot of "2 The Seven Deadly Sins" (Chronicle History, 83) but also with the Ages plays by Thomas Heywood (BCED, 1.286). Fleay's influence on lumping the "Sins" plays and attributing Tarlton's authorship persisted until both claims were challenged by Scott McMillin. McMillin disputed Fleay's math on matching Tarlton's lost "Seven Deadly Sins" with the two-part "Seven Deadly Sins" for which the second part ("2 The Seven Deadly Sins,") survives in a theatrical plot ("Building Stories," 58-9). He argued further that Tarlton's play "was never said to be in two parts" (Queen's Men, 93).

Greg gave considerable credence to Fleay's connecting "Five Plays in One" with Heywood's work, though he discredits Fleay's guesswork on the stories dramatized in most of the playlets. He was more positive about Fleay's identification of an item in Henslowe's inventory lists with Five Plays in One," namely the head of Argus:

Under the heading “The Enventary tacken of all the properties for my Lord Admeralles men, the 10 of Marche 1598”:

Item, ... Argosse heade ... (Greg, Papers [Appx. I, art. 1, p. 117. l. 67])

Perhaps teased by the appeal of assigning properties in Henslowe's inventory that were not specifically assigned to plays, Greg offered another conjecture, asking why the "Cupedes bowe, & quiver" (Greg, Papers, p. 117, l. 70) might not have abelonged to "Five Plays in One" s logically as to "Dido and Aeneas." His thinking was that the story of Cupid and Psyche was a plausible possibility for one of the playlets in "Five Plays in One" if each of the parts dramatized a Greco-Roman narrative.

The effect of the Fleay-Greg commentary has been to solidify the narrative and dramatic sources and analogues of "Five Plays in One" with classical mythology even though there is no corroborating evidence for that association.


References to the Play

Information welcome.




Critical Commentary

Foakes repeats the assignment of "Argosse head" in Henslowe's inventory to "Five Plays in One", though with a qualifying question mark and reminder of Greg's role in the assignment (p. 319, n17); likewise he repeats Greg's conjectural reassignment of Cupid's bow and quiver from "Dido and Aeneas" to "Five Plays in One" (p. 320, n4).


Gurr, too, is influenced by the Fleay-Greg conjectures. He notes that "Five Plays in One" is "possibly" by Heywood and includes the properties (Argus's head, Cupid's bow and quiver) in the Appendix item for the play (p. 228, #66). In a note, he documents the assignment of the properties by citing the Diary editors as source (p. 228, n.65).


Wiggins strips away all previous conjecture on the association of "Five Plays in One" with similarly named earlier plays-in-one as well as the assignment (however tentatively) of any properties in Henslowe's inventory with this particular play (#1063).




For What It's Worth

Information welcome.


Works Cited

Gurr, Andrew. Shakespeare's Opposites: The Admiral's Company 1594-1625. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009.
McMillin, Scott. "Building Stories: Greg, Fleay, and the Plot of 2 Seven Deadly Sins." Medieval and Renaissance Drama in England 4 (1989): 53-62.
McMillin, Scott and Sally-Beth MacLean. The Queen's Men and their Plays. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998.



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