Swortzell, Lowell. Punch and Judy. B K-Adult Punch and Judy has become an icon of children’s theater and puppetry. Hook-nosed Punch, though light-hearted and innocent, lacks compassion and remorse for his wrongdoings. When bitten by a dog, Punch confronts its owner and knocks his head off with a stick. He then throws his own baby out a window, and when his wife Judy complains, he beats her senseless. Punch then meets a series of characters; each interaction ends with a similar result. Finally, after Punch has beaten away even the devil, Judy returns. She tells Punch that their baby is okay, and she’ll return to him if he will promise to throw away his stick. He does so, and they “dance happily as the audience applauds.” In this introduction to Punch and Judy, Swortzell addresses the violence in the play but seems to have difficulty justifying it. He explains that he did limit much of the violence in the original texts, and that most children do not seem disturbed by the violent actions of the puppet characters. Regardless of its appropriateness for performance, Punch and Judy is an important piece of theater history. Punch and Judy has eleven characters, who should be played by puppets and can be performed by one person. From: Swortzell, Lowell. Around the World in 21 Plays. Applause, 1997. ISBN 1-55783-370-2. $22.95. 690 pp. A Reviewed by Nathan F. Christensen
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