Performing the Queen's Men

Famous Victories: To the Court

The Arrival of the King

The next section of text is full of clues about the location of the scene and the traffic on the stage.
Script

The trumpet sounds.

HENRY V: Gog's wounds, sirs, the King comes.
1 Let's all stand aside.

2 Enter the KING, with the Lord of EXETER.

KING HENRY IV:
And is it true, my lord, that my son is already sent to the Fleet? Now truly that man
is more fitter to rule the realm than I, for by no means could I rule my son, and he by one word hath
caused him to be ruled. Oh, my son, my son, no sooner out of one prison, but into an other. I had
thought once whiles I had lived, to have seen this noble realm of England flourish by thee my son, but
now I see it goes to ruin and decay.
He weepeth.

3 Enters Lord of OXFORD.


OXFORD:
And please your Grace, here is my Lord your son that cometh to speak with you. He
sayeth he must and will speak with you.

KING HENRY IV: Who, my son Harry?

OXFORD: Aye, and please your Majesty.

KING HENRY IV: I know wherefore he cometh, but look that none come with him.

4 OXFORD: A very disordered company and such as make very ill rule in your Majesty's house.

1. Let's all stand aside.

Here is another directive for stage movement from within the dialogue but what does it mean? Where is “aside”? Standing aside is a relatively common directive in Elizabethan drama and usually means that characters retreat to one side of the stage in order to overhear the conversation of the new characters arriving. No exit is marked for the prince and his companions so perhaps this is what happens here. But then no exit is marked for the Porter and since he does not appear in the rest of the scene it would be odd if he remains on stage at this point. We need more evidence here before we can make a decision about the stage traffic, but the most likely interpretation at this point is that the prince and his companions remain on-stage but are not noticed by the arriving king.

2. Enter the KING, with the Lord of EXETER.

This is a nice clear stage direction but the subsequent dialogue does not establish where the king is entering from or to. We might presume he is now also outside the castle gates but this seems a strange place for him to come and share his personal laments about the behavior of his wayward son.

3. Enters Lord of OXFORD.

OXFORD:
And please your Grace, here is my Lord your son that cometh to speak with you. He sayeth he must and will speak with you.

Now this is odd. Oxford’s entrance is marked clearly enough but then he announces that the prince has arrived to see the king. The stage direction marking his entrance implies he is coming on stage from the tiring house but he is bringing a request from the prince who, according to the stage directions, has not yet left the stage.

4. OXFORD: A very disordered company and such as make very ill rule in your Majesty's house.

Oxford tells the king that the prince’s companions are making a nuisance of themselves in the court. If this is the case, then surely they cannot be on stage since their noise would be entirely distracting for the audience. It would now appear that they did leave the stage after all when the prince decided to "stand aside".

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