Wednesday, 11 January 2017

11 January, 1593 - The Comedy of Cosmo

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

Henslowe writes: R at the comodey of cosmo the 12 of Jenewary 1593 ... xxxxvijs 

In modern English: Received at The Comedy of Cosmo, 11th January, 1593 ... 47 shillings.

Henslowe seems to have muddled his dates again, skipping the 11th. His dates make more sense if we assume that he's a day out of sync until the end of the week, so that's what I'll do.

Cosimo de Medici. He had nothing to do
with this play, but his name was 
Cosimo, so he gets his picture here
Anyway, today Lord Strange's Men performed a play that we haven't seen them perform before. The Comedy of Cosmo is now lost and we can't say much about it except that it was presumably Italian in style, since Cosmo sounds like a variant on the Italian name Cosimo.

So, what was The Comedy of Cosmo? Well, most scholars think it was probably just an alternate title for The Jealous Comedy, which the company had premiered last week. The logic is that we've never heard of Cosmo before, and yet Henslowe doesn't describe it as "new". And just as The Jealous Comedy sounds like the title of an Italian-style comedy, so too does this one. So, either the company was reviving a long-unused play, or else the main character in The Jealous Comedy was called Cosimo, and Henslowe began thinking of the play via his name.

If Cosmo was indeed the same play as The Jealous Comedy, that means it made a little more box office than it did last week; the play may not initially have done as well as other premieres, but its popularity was rising rather than falling.


Comedy of Cosmo information

  • Martin Wiggins, British Drama, 1533-1642: A Catalogue, vol. 3 (Oxford University Press, 2013), entries 945 and 946.

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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