French Comedy, The

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Historical Records

Performance Records

Playlists in Philip Henslowe's diary


F11 (Greg I.21):

ye 11 of febreary 1594 . . . . . ne . . . . Rd at the frenshe Comodey . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ls


F11v (Greg I.22):

ye 27 of febreary 1594 . . . . . . . . . . . . Rd at the frenshe Comodey . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . xxxxs
ye 12 of maye 1595 Rd at the frenshe comodey . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . xxviijs


F12v (Greg I.24)

ye 31 of maye 1595 . . . . . pd . . . . Rd at the frenshe comodey . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . xvs
ye 17 of June 1595 Rd at the frenshe comodey . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . xxjs
ye 24 of June mydsomerdaye Rd at the frenshecomodey . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . xxxs


Theatrical Provenance

The Admiral's men performed "The French Comedy" at the Rose playhouse twice before Eastertide in 1595 and four times into the summer.

Probable Genre(s)

Comedy

Possible Narrative and Dramatic Sources or Analogues

Information welcome.

References to the Play

None known.

Critical Commentary

Malone makes no comment on the play (p. 296); however, by not including a second and separate entry for "A French Comedy" at its appearance on 18 April 1597, he implies that the two plays were one. Collier specifically warns against confusing the play with "The French Doctor," which had been introduced in the Admiral's repertory in October 1594 and was played throughout the run of "The French Comedy" and beyond (p. 49, n1); at the maiden performance of "A French Comedy" (18 April 1597, Collier acknowledges the sameness of the titles but does not fold them into a single script (p. 87, n1). Fleay, BCED (2.303, #162), like Malone, does not include a second and separate entry for "A French Comedy." Greg II considers it "impossible to say" if Henslowe's entries indicate one play or two (p.174, #67).

Knutson ignores the difference in the titles of the two plays and discusses them as one (p. 49), yet she uses the pair to challenge the habit of Fleay, BCED to consider "duplicate plays as mistakes in the diary for one seminal text and/or versions, revisions, or thefts of a single text" (p. 50). Her larger point is that "the frequency with which plays on similar subjects, with similarly formulaic titles, or merely with titles echoing other works ... forces us to recognize that what may be a standard of efficiency for us does not necessarily define the way companies did business" (p. 50).

Gurr considers the similarity of the two titles and specifies that "[t]he editors of the Diary believe that only one play way involved" (p. 214, n35).

Wiggins, Catalogue, respecting the subtle difference in the two titles, gives each play its own entry: the 1595 item, "The French Comedy," is #989; the 1597 "A French Comedy" is #1066.

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.
Knutson, Roslyn Lander. The Repertory of Shakespeare's Company, 1594-1613. Fayetteville, AR: The University of Arkansas Press. 1991.



Site created and maintained by Roslyn L. Knutson, Professor Emerita, University of Arkansas at Little Rock; 11 February 2021.Plays]]