Monday, June 26, 2006

The Verities

King James was displeased. There was a silly mechanism seeping into the plays by which characters were magically rendered unconscious by a rap on the head while some business was accomplished which required their unawarity.

He was a great believer in the verities as promoted by Jonson and Greene and the other Oxford dons. You should not see Agincourt in one instance and then be magically transported back to the moors the next. And no growth or gestation should occur in no two hours.

And no taps to the head should snuff the candle of consciousness for a brief interlude of the plot. The king was quite incensed about that.

And so after a performance of a play at the Globe, the actors were gathering on the stage for their curtain call. The royal bedchamber guard was there behind them all as they bowed, and when they rose they were greeted by a bash on the noggin from a heavy flat pewter slab.

You see, announced the royal centurian, some are stunned, some bloodied, some killed, yet none lapses into a dreamy slumber for two minutes then awakes with no further bother.

That is why there are no knockout bits in the old plays from the Jacoban era. That process did not begin again until the cowboy movies and the Hardy Boys books, in which Frank alone accounted for some five hundred concussions.

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