Boxing Day, Thursday, 26 December 2019

The Play of St George and the Dragon

The Mummers line up to sing a Wassail carol, then:-

The Lord of Misrule welcomes the audience (Nobility, Gentry, and Commonality of St Albans) and sets the scene for a performance of "the time-honoured masque of St George and the Dragon, as performed before Her Most Gracious Majesty, Queen Victoria". He calls on:-

The Turkish Knight A mighty warrior from the exotic east, in oriental garb, full of "courage bold", and ready to fight St George. He invites the support of:-

Old Father Christmas "Welcome, or welcome not", he clears a stage for the play, and tells the audience that the Mummers "haven't come here for laugh nor jeer, but a hatful of money and a bellyfull of beer." He then calls on:-

The King or Queen of Egypt Incredibly, St George is this character's son-in-law! In the world of the Mummers, Egypt has had Kings and Queens - watch this space! The monarch invites George to show "his wondrous art".

St George Our Hero! Already well-versed in war (or football hooliganism), George arrives, and declares himself ready to take on all comers. First, of course, he goes one-on-one with his usual foe,

The Dragon Traditional villain. His "Strong teeth and scurvy jaw", and some sneaky tactics, give him victory over St George, but don't worry, that's only the first round. Father Christmas doesn't like that result, so he calls for the services of:-

The Doctor His qualifications may be dubious, his "cure" (a bottle of colourful and alcoholic fluid) not universally popular, and his fees extortionate, but he does succeed in raising the dead.

St George is the first to benefit(?) from the cure, and comes back to life, to fight and slay the Dragon.

St George then takes on the Turkish Knight, (remember him?) who proves no match, and soon joins the Dragon on the floor. Finally, St George challenges:-

The Giant "Fee, fie, foe, fum!" etc. Where he came from no-one knows, but he doesn't like St George one little bit. Sadly for him, the Giant can't fight for toffee, so he too ends up flat on his back.

Father Christmas decides enough carnage is enough and calls for the Doctor. They negotiate a price, and the Doctor revives the Dragon, Turkish Knight and Giant with his secret potion.

The Lord of Misrule returns to tell the audience that the play is over. He invites them to "remember this hat, which is highly commended", and sets
a hat/box/bucket circulating.

The Mummers then sing a traditional carol, wish the audience a happy New Year, and take their bows, to rupturous applause.

Sometimes, extra characters make an appearance (Little Jack Sweep, years ago, and Beelzebub more recently). Occasionally, too, a spectator may find him- or herself sampling the Doctor's cure, or dragooned into the (non-speaking) role of "Fair Sabea", the monarch of Egypt's daughter.

There is a script for the play, but, in traditional fashion, this is just the starting point. Each year, the Mummers add topical(?) jokes(?), and involve the audience in the words and action, sometimes to their great delight.

(C) 2019 St Alban's Mummers / Sandy Glover