If dogs and their owners can be paired up just by their looks (Dogs look like their owners, it’s a scientific fact (BBC Future)) is it appropriate that Judy works Punch?
Marriage, for better, for worse, is a contract made in heaven – just as is thunder and lightning (quote attributed to Hollywood luminary Clint Eastwood). Marriage contracts were for centuries hard to annul, just ‘ask’ King Henry VIII, and it’s therefore no surprise that Punch and Judy (or is it Judy and Punch?) ended up fractious. Like cats and dogs, these two not only look like one another but they fight like one another too.
Think about it, cooped up all day, in a stripy tent for hundreds of years with no other company than a clown, a crocodile and a stupid policeman for company!
Did you know that traditionalists will often reference a script from the 1830’s which clearly shows that Judy strikes the first blow? Is Judy, with her equally hooked nose and chin, more Punch than Punch? In the traditional shows Punch is beset by all sorts of ‘do-gooders’ who, in turn, bring their own stick with which to knock Punch about. Instead they themselves get knocked about – hoisted by their own petard.
Judy can be more Punch than Punch; old timers have been known to Swazzle both with impunity, clarity and without even swapping a male Swazzle for a female Swazzle.
Today, Punchmen usually have to resort to acting Judy out as a pantomime dame. They do so by adopting a falsetto style voice. Are they, as a consequence, robbing Punch of its heritage? Do you want Judy to be mumsy? My Judy garners more support than I think is natural and this must be, in part, due to the voice I give her. She can’t, after all, move her lips, frown or even change her expression.
Women who play Punch can give the opposite sex an easy voice as the Swazzle can do all the work but how will they play Judy – one of their own fair sex? Punch views the world through his own masculine eyes – it is important that Punch is Punch – otherwise what’s the point? But Judy? Well she can fain Punch or pick up her own mop stick and do her own thing. Either way the show is going to be different. And sometimes it’s that difference (or is it just insecurity masquerading as preference?) that lady bookers prefer.
Vive la différence, or here’s looking at you kid!