There are not many Punch and Judy shows in Australia these days but when I was a child the Punch and Judy Show was a feature at many British seaside resorts including Clacton where we always had our summer holidays.
This traditional puppet show known as Punch and Judy in the UK has counterparts in France, Germany, Italy and many other countries all over Europe. The puppeteers are known as Professors.
There are various scripts for a traditional Punch and Judy Show but for those unfamiliar with it the story always revolves around Mr Punch, his wife Judy and a cast of characters that usually includes a policeman, a butcher, a crocodile and the Devil. The Professors will often include other characters who are more relevant to a modern audience. You can read a typical script from the 1960s here.
Usually, the story is a series of short scenes rather than a whole story. Punch always behaves badly and hits the other characters with his slap stick. It’s traditional for the audience to participate by shouting out warnings to Punch or Judy when danger appears. The characters will often break the fourth wall and address the audience too.
I’ve seen a few Punch and Judy shows as an adult and while I don’t usually enjoy violence I do appreciate the satire that sometimes creeps into the scripts and it is fun even though it is not very PC.
Until just a few years ago there was a Professor here in Tasmania and Naomi and I saw the show a couple of times at different events around Hobart before he retired. Before the show he would come around the audience with some large puppets to talk to the children and at the beginning would always announce that of course it was just make believe I guess to reassure any children who might be frightened or maybe to stop them from thinking it was OK to throw the baby out the window, steal sausages or hit people with sticks.