Playlists in Philip Henslowe's diary
- Fol. 11v (Greg I.22)
ye 21 of febreary 1594 . . . . ne . . . . Res at the macke . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . iijll
"The Mack" enjoyed a single performance by the Admiral's men at the Rose (its debut, according to Henslowe's "ne"); it appears in no other extant theater records.
Possible Narrative and Dramatic Sources or Analogues
References to the Play
Malone observes that "The Mack," like "The Set at Maw", names a card game (p. 296, n.5). Collier repeats Malone's observation, then adds his own guess that it "was perhaps written in consequence of the success of the Maw, already many times represented" (p. 49).
Fleay, BCED (1.136), as he had for "The Set at Maw", identifies "The Mack" with a much later play: Come see a Wonder, 1623, by John Day. He believes that Day's play was the second generation of Thomas Dekker's The Wonder of a Kingdom (1623), and that at some deeper level it was the lost "Mack": "The original Dekker play was a "Card play" (see the last nine lines), probably The Mack, an Admiral's play of 1595." Fleay further surmised a revival "at the Bull," by which he apparently meant not "The Mack" but the Dekker play, with bits of "The Mack" incorporated.
Greg II dutifully considers Fleay's lumping of "The Mack" with John Day's Come See a Wonder, which was published under authorship of Thomas Dekker and the title of The Wonder of a Kingdom. Although he thinks the case "better" than Fleay's for linking "The Set at Maw" with Match Me in London, he believes that The Wonder of a Kingdom was only "possibly" the Admiral's play called "The Mack."
Gurr has nothing to say about "The Mack" beyond its having received one performance marked "ne" in Henslowe's records (p. 94).
Wiggins, Catalogue (#990) resurrects the suggestion of Collier that "The Mack" was "probably a follow-up to the previous year's Set at Maw. Addressing the possible story of the play, he suggests that the script might have "followed the structure and process of the game; but in this case the rules are unknown" (#990). He is therefore thinking of a card game other than "Maw," the rules of which are known (see For What It's Worth, in the entry for "The Set at Maw").
For What It's Worth
As Wiggins observes (Catalogue #990), the rules of the game of Mack are unknown. For the rules of the game of Maw, see the entry for "The Set at Maw" in this database.
Sharpe reads the solo performance of "The Mack" as a possible signal that it "gave offense and was suppressed" (p. 54).
Site created and maintained by Roslyn L. Knutson, Professor Emerita, University of Arkansas at Little Rock; updated 8 January 2021.