Mermaid welcomes back playwright

A young Kenneth Williams?

The last Sunday of the Arts Festival kicked off with a hilarious production of Shakespeare in Rye by the Rye Players in the Mermaid.

How to pay for the hotel

Appropriately enough the story focused on a reported trip by William Shakespeare to Rye, where he stayed in the Boars Head (also known as the Whore’s Bed) on Middle Street, a thinly disguised Mermaid Inn.

Shakespeare had been persuaded by his friends John Fletcher and Kit Marlow to visit Rye to get inspiration as he had run out of ideas for quirky characters. He was assured by Fletcher that there would be no shortage of these in Rye so he agreed to make the experiment. Fortunately Fletcher, a local boy, was able to persuade the keeper of the town’s Landgate to let the DFL (Down from Londoner) enter and they proceed at pace to the Boar’s Head.

The playwrights needed money to pay for their accommodation but unfortunately for them, all the banks in town bar one had closed down, and the only remaining outlet refused to accommodate them. So they decided to put on a play instead to raise funds, recruiting locals to play their parts in the Merchant of Hastings.

It was an excellent, spirited show with lots of knowing chuckles and participation from the packed audience. The actors put their backs into it, with some very strong performances.


Image Credits: Tony Sharp .


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