King’s Company

Pepys’ Diary

Source: Diary of Samuel Pepys, 18 August 1664

Production: James Shirley, The Court Secret, Bridges Street theatre, London, 18 August 1664

Text: Dined alone at home, my wife going to-day to dine with Mrs. Pierce, and thence with her and Mrs. Clerke to see a new play, “The Court Secret.”

I busy all the afternoon, toward evening to Westminster, and there in the Hall a while, and then to my barber, willing to have any opportunity to speak to Jane, but wanted it. So to Mrs. Pierces, who was come home, and she and Mrs. Clerke busy at cards, so my wife being gone home, I home, calling by the way at the Wardrobe and met Mr. Townsend, Mr. Moore and others at the Taverne thereby, and thither I to them and spoke with Mr. Townsend about my boy’s clothes, which he says shall be soon done, and then I hope I shall be settled when I have one in the house that is musicall.

So home and to supper, and then a little to my office, and then home to bed. My wife says the play she saw is the worst that ever she saw in her life.

Comments: Elisabeth Pepys (1640-1669) was the wife of the British naval administrator and diarist Samuel Pepys. She frequently attended the theatre with her husband, but at times with female friends alone or a female servant, and on this rare occasion we get to hear her view of a production. The tragicomedy The Court Secret was James Shirley‘s final play, composed before 1642 but first printed in 1653 and not performed until 1664. It was peformed by the King’s Company at the Bridges Street theatre (the first theatre on the Drury Lane site).

Links: http://www.pepysdiary.com/diary/1664/08/18/

Pepys’ Diary

Source: Diary of Samuel Pepys, 27 November 1661

Production: William Shakespeare, Hamlet, Vere Street Theatre, London, 27 November 1661

Text: This morning our maid Dorothy and my wife parted, which though she be a wench for her tongue not to be borne with, yet I was loth to part with her, but I took my leave kindly of her and went out to Savill’s, the painter, and there sat the first time for my face with him; thence to dinner with my Lady; and so after an hour or two’s talk in divinity with my Lady, Captain Ferrers and Mr. Moore and I to the Theatre, and there saw “Hamlett” very well done, and so I home, and found that my wife had been with my aunt Wight and Ferrers to wait on my Lady to-day this afternoon, and there danced and were very merry, and my Lady very fond as she is always of my wife. So to bed.

Comments: Samuel Pepys (1633-1703) was a British naval administrator and diarist. He saw Shakespeare‘s Hamlet, at the Vere Street Theatre, London on 27 November 1661. The Vere Street Theatre, variously referred to as the King’s House, King’s Theatre and Theatre Royal, was a real tennis court that was used as a theatre 1660-1663. The diarist John Evelyn saw the same production of Hamlet the day before Pepys.

Links: http://www.pepysdiary.com/diary/1661/11/27

The Diary of John Evelyn

Source: William Bray (ed.), Diary and Correspondence of John Evelyn, F.R.S. (London: George Routledge & Sons, 1906), p. 249

Production: William Shakespeare, Hamlet, Vere Street Theatre, London, 26 November 1661

Text: 1661, 26th November. I saw Hamlet, Prince of Denmark played: but now the old plays began to disgust this refined age, since his Majesty’s being so long abroad.

Comments: John Evelyn (1620-1706) was an English writer and horticulturalist, who kept a diary from 1640 to 1706, though for its first twenty years or so the entries were composed from notes some time after the relevant dates. The theatre was probably the Vere Street Theatre, London, with the King’s Company performing, as Samuel Pepys records seeing Hamlet there the following day. King Charles II had returned from exile in May 1660.

Links: The Diary of John Evelyn

Pepys’ Diary

Source: Diary of Samuel Pepys, 29 September 1662

Production: William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Vere Street Theatre, London, 29 September 1662

Text: I sent for some dinner and there dined, Mrs. Margaret Pen being by, to whom I had spoke to go along with us to a play this afternoon, and then to the King’s Theatre, where we saw “Midsummer’s Night’s Dream,” which I had never seen before, nor shall ever again, for it is the most insipid ridiculous play that ever I saw in my life. I saw, I confess, some good dancing and some handsome women, which was all my pleasure.

Comments: Samuel Pepys (1633-1703) was a British naval administrator and diarist. The performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream was given by Thomas Killigrew‘s King’s Company at the Vere Street Theatre. Variously referred to as the King’s House, King’s Theatre and Theatre Royal, it was a real tennis court that was used as a theatre 1660-1663. As Pepys does not mention the play again in his diary, he was presumably as good as his word.

Links: http://www.pepysdiary.com/diary/1662/09/29/