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humanities 179 university of toronto quarterly, volume 73, number 1, winter 2003/4 6,000 people descending on the innkeepers, hostelers, and victualers= of a town whose population was only 200. The New Romney >playbook= is mentioned frequently in the records, but unfortunately has not survived. Gibson, however, has been able to piece together from the records a credible reconstruction of >the probable characters, structure, and staging of the New Romney passion play.= There were, apparently, >four separate plays within the passion play,= each having its own day. The narrative, based largely on the Gospel of John, began with the early ministry of Christ and ended with his ascension. The two central days were devoted to his arrest, trial, crucifixion, and descent into hell. At least seven fixed stages were required for the passion play=s performance. Other religious plays in the diocese included >a miracle play of Saint Mary= at Boxley Abbey in 1408B9, a >play of St Christina= at Bethersden in 1521B22, and Lydd=s parish play of St George, to which several references survive between 1456 and 1534. Like New Romney=s passion play, Lydd=s saint=s play was performed over four days. Whether this involved four performances of the same play or, as in New Romney, a longer play in four parts is not clear. Lydd and New Romney also feature in a tantalizing series of references to >the St Nicholas bishop of the town of Romney.= Although >no reference to the custom survives either in the New Romney town records or in the parish records of St Nicholas= Church= in New Romney, many references are found in the chamberlain=s account book in nearby Lydd between 1428 and 1485. Since the boy bishop and his retinue entertained the people of Lydd over the Christmas season, one assumes they also amused the parishioners of New Romney. In the latter case, however, they were not paid and so failed to find a place in the records. One puzzling feature of the Kent volumes is the small number of references to Robin Hood plays and games, so popular elsewhere in England. In Kent, there is just one reference to the plays B performance, from Hythe in 1532, and one prohibition, from Dover in 1527. There are, however, numerous references to morris dancers, and, in that context, on three occasions, to a cross-dressed Maid Marian. From Canterbury, in 1589, comes the information that the role was played by a twelve-year-old boy >dressed in womans apparell= and braided hair. The price of these three volumes is unfortunately prohibitive for most individuals. Nevertheless, library copies will provide B along with the other volumes in the REED series B a treasure trove of detailed information for scholars of early English drama. Gibson is to be commended for completing a thorough and painstaking research project and for providing a thoughtful interpretation of his material. The REED editors are to be commended for another addition to their invaluable series. (MAX HARRIS) Janet Hill. Stages and Playgoers: From Guild Plays to Shakespeare 180 letters in canada 2002 university of toronto quarterly, volume 73, number 1, winter 2003/4 McGill-Queen=s University Press. xii, 242. $65.00 >Loved the movie. Hated the audience,= reads the caption of a New Yorker cartoon current as I write this, below the picture of two couples meeting in a cinema lobby. That such alienation is not solely modern is indicated by certain things Hamlet has to say about plays and their reception, but Janet Hill tends to write as if audiences were homogeneous groups, responding to early plays in concert. Her discussions of how plays work on their observers and listeners seem not to leave much room for differences of sensibility . Medieval English audiences especially, as she represents them, sound like salt-of-the-earth, no-nonsense types, who know what they like and have an immediate rapport with the performers. Indeed, the audience itself, she claims, was the real subject of medieval drama: >When each guild play ended, its audiences were still on stage. They continued to live on that stage for the rest of their lives.= The writing in this book, then, is...


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