Sunday, 27 March 2016

27 March, 1592 - A Looking-Glass for London and England

Here's what Lord Strange's Men performed at the Rose playhouse on this day, 424 years ago...

Henslowe writes: Ester R at the lockinglass the 27 marche 1591 ... lvs

In modern English: Easter. Received at The Looking-Glass, 27th March, 1592 ... 55 shillings

Henslowe writes 'Easter' in the margin between this entry and the last. He means that Easter Sunday was yesterday (March 26th), and today was Easter Monday. 

Jonah and the Whale by Pieter Lastman (1621)
So, today Lord Strange's Men returned to A Looking-Glass for London and England, which they had last performed three weeks ago. A moralistic dramatization of the Book of Jonah, this play features a vivid evocation of the sinful city of Nineveh and draws overt parallels with contemporary London; you can read more about it in the entry for 8th March.

Astonishingly, today's performance was a huge success. On its previous outing, Looking-Glass had produced the most dismal box office of the season, receiving only 7 shillings. Now, it drew crowds on the scale of The Jew of Malta, with 55 shillings. What caused this turnaround? Was this Biblical play, with its finger-wagging condemnations of Londoners, felt to be an appropriate choice for Easter Monday? Or was there some more practical reason - for example, had the first performance simply been performed in torrential rain? There are so many things we don't know about the realities and motivations behind this simple list of plays. Either way, I imagine Henslowe was breathing a sigh of relief, as the two-week run of disappointing box office was now broken.

Henslowe links


Did I make a mistake? Do you have a question? Have you anything to add? Please post a comment below!

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