Halloween, and thoughts turn to witches and things that go bump in the night-and for anyone interested in Shakespeare, Macbeth. But here in the bookshop we decided to talk about one of the other plays from the time which include witchcraft and the supernatural. A quick look at our section of works by Shakespeare’s contemporaries provided rich pickings, and left us with the dilemma of which to choose.
Roxanne favoured The Witch of Edmonton by Rowley, Dekker and Ford which, while it capitalised on a recent witch trial for the plot of this tragi-comedy (sic) ‘docu-drama’, still manages to provoke thought on the figure of the witch as a focus and scapegoat for society’s own fears and guilt.
Matt, on the other hand, leaned towards The Witch by Thomas Middleton, not only because he’s a great Middleton fan anyway, but he’s also intrigued by the textual overlap of Hecate’s song appearing in both this play and Middleton’s revision of Macbeth.
In the end, however, we went for the play that was one of the biggest hits of its day, has a bit of a scary theatrical history behind it, and with scenes of deep human emotion expressed in powerful poetry alternating with others of comic knockabout, still fascinates us even today. Roxanne tells us which one it is in the video:
Featured in the video is the New Mermaids edition of Doctor Faustus by Christopher Marlowe, available from The Shakespeare Bookshop priced £6.99