( England: In John Heywood's The Play of the Wether: c. 1533)
Vicki K. Janik
Merry Report "the Vyce" appears as the dominant character in The Play of the Wether, first published in 1533 in London by William Rastell, John Heywood's brother-in-law. The play is classified as a Tudor interlude because of its date, its brevity (1,254 lines), and its humor, although the term "interlude" was often used interchangeably with "play." It was probably acted by a company of boys, possibly the St. Paul's Boys, for members of the English court of Henry VIII at Christmas in 1527 ( Heywood, ed. Robinson, 80).
The play presents eight petitioners who arrive one by one at the court of Jupiter. Each requests a particular type of weather that will be beneficial to his or her own most important activity. Before the petitioners arrive, Jupiter opens the play with a long encomium to himself in which he explains to the audience that he has been given the power of all the gods to set aright the weather on earth, and he has descended to "satysfye and content / All maner people whyche have ben offendyd / By any wether" (88-89). He requests a volunteer to serve as his "cryer" and selects Merry Report from among the audience.
Jupiter then exits and only periodically reappears during the petitioning process, while Merry Report remains onstage for nearly the entire play, listening to, taunting, and teasing the procession of English citizens. These include a gentleman who seeks fair weather for hunting, a merchant who desires wind for sailing trading ships, a ranger who wants violent wind to blow down trees and branches, two bawdy millers who debate the value of their wished-for wind and rain to energize and move their millstones, a fine lady wishing to protect her beauty