The Devil in Punch and Judy
The Devil ( that's him on the left )
Ask anyone to name some of the characters in a Punch and Judy show and they will probably name Mr Punch, Judy, the baby, the policeman, the crocodile and the sausages ( although sausages are an object they will still be mentioned ). These are the main characters that people are familiar with. Rarely will they mention the Devil. In fact this character is not seen very often in the modern version of the show.
The Devil was once an important character who would regularly appear in plays and stories performed in public places. He was very well known!
In medieval times people were God fearing. The church had great power and influence over the population and it was believed that wrong doers would be damned. They thought that those who lived a good life would be rewarded by going to heaven when they died. Those who were sinners on the other hand would be cast down into the fires of hell.
Hell was presided over by Satan, also known as Beelzebub, Lucifer, “Old Nick” or the Devil. This terrifying apparition, half man, half goat with cloven hooves, a barbed tail, and horns could appear at any moment and carry an evil person off to the underworld.
In modern western society religion is less influential than it once was. People are much better educated and the power of the church has significantly declined. The majority of people do not read the bible, they attach little value to religious education, christian morality or ethics. The Devil has therefore become irrelevant in day to day life except perhaps in novels or Hollywood movies.
The Devil provides a perfect adversary for Mr Punch even though the children watching have no idea who he really is. In my show the Devil’s first words are “Do you know who I am” The children will often shout in reply “A Vampire!”
The role of the Devil is to punish Mr Punch for being naughty. He begins by telling Mr Punch off. When the Devil tries to take Punch away a fight breaks out. The audience cheer for Mr Punch which results in the devil becoming more and more agitated. Eventually Punch triumphs to the delight of his supporters.
Mr Punch’s confrontation with the Devil is undoubtedly an exciting high point and a great way to end the show.
A favorite character
Of all the characters in my Punch and Judy Show, the Devil is one of my favorites. He always provokes a great reaction from the crowd. He is brash, arrogant and not very like able. A character the audience loves to hate. Although I don’t always use him I know when I do, he will live up to expectations. Always a great crowd pleaser!