9 May: Meet Mr Punch

Punch and Judy shows, a staple of the British seaside, evolved from the ‘Pulcinella’ marionette shows performed by Italian puppet showman Pietro Gimonde, first spotted by diarist Samuel Pepys in Covent Garden on May 9th, 1662. The show was so popular that Gimonde was summoned to give a Royal Command Performance for the King.

Traveling puppeteers took the trend to fairs and markets, and the cast of characters grew to include a baby, a policeman, a crocodile, and a string of sausages. The spectacle was known for its slapstick humor and Punch’s catchphrase “That’s the way to do it!”.

In this episode, Arion, Rebecca and Olly reveal why Punch’s wife ‘Joan’ was dumped in favour of ‘Judy’; discover that the pearl-clutching concerns of exposing children to Mr Punch’s ultra-violence are nothing new; and consider the risks of using a ‘swazzle’…  

Further Reading:

• ‘That’s the Way to Do it! A History of Punch and Judy’ (Victoria and Albert Museum): http://www.vam.ac.uk/content/articles/t/thats-the-way-to-do-it%21-a-history-of-punch-and-judy/

• ‘Mr Punch celebrates 350 years of puppet anarchy’ (BBC News, 2012): https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-17895716

• ‘Interviewing Mr Punch’ (Anglia TV):

#Theatre #1600s #Italy #London