Monday, 2 April 2018

2 April, 1594 - The Ranger's Comedy

Here's what the Earl of Sussex's Men and the Queen's Men performed at the Rose playhouse on this day, 424 years ago...

Henslowe writes: R at the Rangers comodey 2 of marche Aprell 1593 ... iijll 

In modern English: Received at The Ranger's Comedy, 2nd April, 1594 ... £3

An Elizabethan hunting scene, perhaps
illustrating the subject of this play
Today, Sussex's Men and the Queen's Men performed The Ranger's Comedy. This play is now lost, and it is hard to tell from its title alone what its subject matter might have been. The Oxford English Dictionary tells us that in Elizabethan England, the word 'ranger' could refer to:

  • A forester, a gamekeeper, or the keeper of a royal park (this meaning survives in the modern 'park ranger')
  • Someone who wanders
  • A rake (that is, one who ranges from woman to woman)
  • Someone who organizes troops for a battle
Any of these rangers could have been a suitable subject for a comedy. Was the play about a harassed gamekeeper trying to fend off poachers? Was it a travel play about a wanderer? Was it about a lothario who gets his comeuppance? Or was it a play about war?  We'll probably never know.

But whatever its subject, today's performance attracted a large crowd representing an almost full theatre. This may have been because The Ranger's Comedy was a much-loved old play; however, this being Easter Week, a time of festivity, it's possible that Londoners were flooding to the theatre regardless of what was being offered. 


Ranger's Comedy information

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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