Punch and Judy

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Punch and Judy, famous English puppet play, very popular with children and given widely by strolling puppet players, especially during the Christmas season. It came to England in the 17th cent. by way of France from Italy and developed out of the commedia dell'arte character, Pulcinella. To this traditional figure of the Italian comedy were added aspects of the medieval English fool. Punch, a hunchback, with a hooked nose and chin and a pot belly, was the cruel and boastful husband of a nagging wife, Judy, whom he often beat and in many versions killed. The language of the play is coarse and often satirical. The text was first written down and printed by J. P. Collier in 1827.

See G. Baker's Playing With Punch (1944); P. Fraser, Punch and Judy (1970).

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Punch and Judy. Opera in 1 act by Birtwistle, lib. by Stephen Pruslin. Comp. 1966–7. F.p. Aldeburgh 1968, Minneapolis 1970, London (concert) 1979, (stage) 1982.