All in the Family - Performance Notes

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This play was first performed at the St Valentines Day Ball in the Barony of Politarchopolis in 2009. The audience loved it, and laughed themselves silly. Here are some notes on that performance. Feel free to put your own interpretation on the play.

Setting the Scene

The Narator summoned the ball guests to be seated for the play, which many were expecting, but no-one had announced the title of the play, only that is was about the Gods. The cast are only identified as they are addressed in the play, so we hoped to surprise the audience as each character was found out by the other players. It worked to great effect.


The cast had made individual interpretations on how Roman their costume would be. The ball had a Roman theme, and some had put great effort into Roman clothes, and others had worn their normal SCA-period clothes with a toga thrown over the top. Each actor also had a token prop to be their disguise. Jupiter threw a sheepskin over his shoulder, Mercury a hat and a satchel, Mars had a crook, Juno a staff, Venus a fluffy bag in the shape of a Wallace and Grommit style sheep.


Jupiter makes suggestive moves whilst telling the audience about Phyllis. He exits to get his sheepskin disguise. Mercury is only really identified as a messenger, annoyed at handling a love letter. His remarks about Cupid could be seen as figurative. When Jupiter saunters back on he does not notice Mercury at first, and looks around in surprise to see who Mercury is calling out for. Jupiter is pleased how well his disguise is apparently working. As Mercury attempts to convince Jupiter, he walks behind him, from one side to the other, with Jupiter responding. Mercury feels Jupiter is rather slow, and so emphasises "Her bosom...!".

When Jupiter goes to write the letter, he makes much fuss searching about himself for paper, before realising he could use the back of Margaret's note. Jupiter then starts to search for a pen, and realises that Mercury is holding out the one from his hat. Jupiter pauses in thought a long moment before writing the letter, obviously attempting to think. A snide comment about heroic couplets, or hushing the audience would work here. Jupiter pays Mercury with a very small token, in this case a 1 cent coin, though a rock would do.


The audience do not know who Venus is, other than she is waiting for "a boy". Venus is slightly confused to get her letter returned, but finds Jupiter's note on the back. As Venus reads the letter she sighs, gasps and moans with delight. In her haste to leave she drops the note, but leaves it there. Mercury, obviously pleased, idly retrieves the note. He guestures with the note while talking to Mars, up until realising he should hide it behind his back. The comment about Cupid could be seen as figurative.


Jupiter and Juno enter, hand in hand. Jupiter is trying to flirt with Juno, but also to escape to his rondezvous with Venus. When Jupiter goes, Juno is bored and quite ready to make laboured inuendo with Mars. Mars pauses before his last line, looks at Juno, then the audience, obviously deciding that maybe he's not in such a hurry to find Venus. They should exit in the same direction as Jupiter, heading for the same wood.


OK, this scene was confusing to the actors, so try to keep up. To start with the gods all think everyone else is a shepheard or shepheardess. This is especially confused by Jupiter who is pretending to be Marcus pretending to be Galeo. (It was even more strange given the SCA setting where everyone at the event has already taken on a persona, So I was Jaysen pretending to be Crispin pretending to be Jupiter pretending to be Marcus pretending to be Galeo.) By the end of the scene everyone involved has been discovered to be a god, so props are being discarded all over the place.

As Jupiter offers his initial explanations, Venus looks doubtful. When Venus relents, Jupiter is confident and quick to make his move and they freeze in an embrace. Juno and Mars do not notice the other couple as they enter, until Juno turns to embrace Mars and stops short. Jupiter and Venus are startled back into action. Jupiter is so confused by the goings on that he accidently answers to his nickname of Jove. This in turn starts every other god's disguise coming undone, with Juno being furious at Jupiter and Venus, at least while she thinks Venus is a mortal. Mars reacts with disgust at the idea of getting it on with his mother. Now that it's known that every other god had thought that pretending to heard sheep was a good disguise, Jupiter exclaims at the audience, asking whether anyone here is mortal. All eyes fall on Mercury, who is slightly embarrased. His remarks about Cupid turn out to be not at all figurative. At the end Jupiter leads all the gods off with authority.

In taking bows, Juno takes care to barge in between Venus and Jupiter.

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Copyright Jaysen Ollerenshaw 2009. Free use within the SCA.

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