Hello RSC Key members! This newest blog post – a synopsis of Thomas Dekker’s city comedy The Shoemaker’s Holiday – is written by Kathryn Piekarski, one of our current Marketing Interns. The Shoemaker’s Holiday will show in the Swan Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon from 11 December 2014 to 7 March 2015.
Rowland Lacy (an aristocrat) and Rose Oateley (daughter of the Mayor of London) are young, in love, and desperate to marry, but social class and disapproving relatives stand in the way of their plans for the future. In an attempt to separate the young lovers, Lacy is ordered to serve in the war in France whilst Rose’s father contrives to match her with a more ‘suitable’ gentleman, Master Hammon. However they are not the only couple fated to be torn apart – shoemaker Ralph is also to be dispatched to the war, much to the despair of his loving wife Jane. Although Ralph dutifully sets off across the sea, leaving a parting gift of new shoes for Jane, Lacy decides to take some drastic steps in order to remain behind in London.
Simon Eyre, known as the mad shoemaker of Tower Street, and his wife Margery are on their way from rags to riches when Lacy – now disguised as Dutch cobbler Hans – joins his company of shoemakers. Lacy uses his new position, along with the help of his fellow journeymen and Rose’s maid Sybil, to visit Rose and continue with their marriage plans. Eyre’s journey of good fortune sees him first made Sheriff and then the new Mayor of London, and festivities are arranged to commemorate Eyre’s social ascension.
Meanwhile, Master Hammon – following a rejection by Rose – courts Jane and misinforms her of Ralph’s death in the war in order to persuade her to marry him instead. Ralph arrives home injured but alive, and is dismayed to be unable to find Jane waiting for him on his return. However, as chance would have it, Ralph is commissioned to make a pair of wedding shoes for Hammon’s new bride, to be modelled on the very pair he gave to Jane on his departure for the war. Along with the brotherhood of shoemakers Ralph invades the wedding in order to reclaim his wife from Hammon, who attempts to turn the ceremony into a twisted commercial exchange for Jane’s person.
Lacy’s disguise is eventually discerned by his uncle the Earl of Lincoln and Rose’s father, but following some lucky misdirection they are manoeuvred to invade Hammon’s wedding by mistake, whilst Lacy and Rose escape to marry with the support of the Eyres. The King attends the shoemakers’ celebrations and simultaneously pardons Lacy for abandoning his war duties and blesses the young couple’s marriage. In response to further protests from Lincoln and Oateley, the King knights Lacy and so renders Rose a Lady, finally silencing the arguments against her lower social standing. The celebratory banquet concludes the events, the King attending alongside all the shoemakers of London.