QueenʼsMen Editions

About this text

  • Title: King Leir
  • Author: Peter Cockett

  • Copyright Queen's Men Editions. This text may be freely used for educational, non-profit purposes; for all other uses contact the Editor.
    Author: Peter Cockett
    Peer Reviewed

    King Leir

    105King Leir, Scene 15

    Messenger: Alon Nashman
    Ragan: Derek Genova

    Performing The Messenger (Sc. 15)

    Read about performing the Messenger in scene 12

    This scene provides more support for Nashman's interpretation of The Messenger as a sophisticated and ambitious courtier. The Messenger's language at the start is courtly and his introductory exchange with the queen mannerly (TLN 1164-1165). The phrase: "The residue these letters will declare" (TLN 1168) is hardly the language of a workingman. When he persuades Ragan he is heartless enough to commit murder his idiom shifts suddenly in mid-sentence. Beginning with an educated reference to "adamant" (TLN 1212), he finishes by making comparison between murdering and cracking fleas on his skin (TLN 1214-1216), hardly the personal reference point a sophisticated courtier would wish to establish.

    Following the queen's exit his language becomes more colloquial as he delights in the easy money he is making and suggests the queen might enjoy another kind of "stab" (TLN 1223-1228). Alon was convinced of the sophistication of the character and the importance of social advancement as motivation for his actions and this remained central to his performance. The key characteristic I pushed for was the brash directness I felt characterized much of his language. He is intelligent and capable of adopting courtly language but at heart he is an ambitious man of the streets fighting for what he wants out of life. He, like Mumford, "has well deserved to be called Jack" (TLN 596).

    Treating the role as if it were designed for a clown presented difficulties to Alon and his resistance raised doubts about whether this conception of the role was supportable. The role does not conform exactly to the traditional idea of an Elizabethan clown but perhaps Tarlton, if he played the role, was extending his repertoire, exploring new territory for his clown character. In his climactic scene with Leirand Perillus, the clown becomes the focus of a moral dilemma and the action of the play turns on his decision.

    Read about performing the Messenger in later scenes.

    [[ Resource not found ]] Watch video of Scene 15 on the Performing the Queen's Men website. (The video footage is password protected. Click on "Cancel" in the pop-up window to obtain password.)

    Queen's Men Dramaturgy: Medley Style (Sc. 15)

    Read about Queen's Men medley style in scene 7.

    The Queen's Men inject a little fun into this scene by having Ragan play out her reaction to the letter in dumbshow and have the Messenger describe her reactions for the audience as she performs them. The technique is reminiscent of the virginity test from Middleton and Rowley's The Changeling. In performance, the timing of the actions with the lines was funny: Genova (Ragan) would stamp and Nashman (Messenger) would say "and stamps" (TLN 1176) with great delight in the queen's expected reaction to the letter. As he says: "Here will be more work and more crowns for me" (TLN 1178). Placing this comic display directly beside Ragan's resolution to murder her father is typical of Queen's Men plays, which often refuse to separate serious and comic elements.

    Read more about the Queen's Men medley style

    Performing Ragan (Sc. 15)

    Read about performing Ragan in scene 14

    This section of the play was hard work for Derek Genova ( Ragan) . Once again, his character repeats information at length that we have already received (TLN 1143). She has already described her father's behavior in Cornwall and her fears that he will undermine her power over her husband. We worked on the idea that the letter exacerbates present fears and tips her into murderous intent, thus ending her performance of "fair weather" (TLN 1155) and changing the direction of the action.

    Read about performing Ragan in later scenes

    [[ Resource not found ]]Watch video of Scene 15 on the Performing the Queen's Men website (The video footage is password protected. Click on "Cancel" in the pop-up window to obtain password.)