The English Stage Jig

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4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: The English Stage Jig
LABELS: Hyperion
WORKS: The Black Man; The Merry Wooing of Robin and Joan; Singing Simpkin; The Bloody Battle at Billingsgate; The Cheaters Cheated
PERFORMER: The City Waites/Lucie Skeaping


The Jig was, in the late-16th and early-17th centuries, a short farce tacked onto the end of a more serious theatrical performance. It would include songs, dancing and slapstick and was usually subversive, if not downright libellous and obscene.

These performers are well-renowned for championing the popular music of earlier centuries, and for many years have been showcasing such vernacular forms as broadside ballads and country dances, often collaborating with top theatre companies such as the Royal Shakespeare Company, the Globe and the Royal National.

They provide a fascinating, informative glimpse into what the general populace of England was enjoying when the likes of Dowland, Morley, Wilbye and the brothers Lawes were preferred by the toffs.

Although couched in clever wordplay and nimble tunes, the humour is less than subtle, but such broadness was good enough for Chaucer, Shakespeare and the Carry On team, so who am I?

Accordingly, the acting tends towards the coarse, but the singing and instrumental performances are as genially accomplished as ever with The Waites.


Much as I love the respectable ‘art’ music from this era it must be admitted that the scholarly approach can be rather precious. Skeaping and the Waites let in a bracing breeze. Barry Witherden