Jack Drum's Entertainment

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Title page of a 1616 printing of Jack Drum's Entertainment.

Jack Drum's Entertainment is a late Elizabethan play written by the dramatist and satirist John Marston in c. 1599–1600. It was first performed by the Children of Paul's, one of the troupes of boy actors popular in that era.

The play was entered into the Stationers' Register on 8 September 1600, and first published in quarto in 1601 by the bookseller Richard Olive. A second quarto appeared in 1616, issued by Philip Knight, and a third in 1618 from Nathaniel Fosbrooke. All three quartos are anonymous, though Marston's authorship is unanimously recognized by scholars.

The play is a burlesque romantic comedy, which tells the story of the love between Pasquil and Katherine and the trials and tribulations that they face on the way to happiness. The subplot is the story of a collection of fools who attempt to outwit each other while fighting over women. The play satirizes both human folly in general and the madness of being in love, although its harshest criticism is reserved for those who cannot feel love, like the wicked usurer Mamon, or those who believe themselves superior, failing to recognize that all men may be foolish at times, like the self-satisfied critic Brabant Senior.

It has been suggested that Marston wrote Jack Drum's Entertainment in collaboration with the playwright Thomas Dekker, but the evidence for this is inconclusive.

The play is one element in the War of the Theatres of 1599–1601. Brabant Senior represents Ben Jonson, Marston's literary contemporary and rival. Individual critics have tried to identify other characters in the play with other historical figures besides Jonson, though few of these have won acceptance from the scholarly consensus, with one possible exception: the character Sir Edward Fortune may be the actor Edward Alleyn, who was building the Fortune Theatre in 1600.


  • Caputi, Anthony. John Marston, Satirist. Ithaca, NY, Cornell University Press, 1961.
  • Chambers, E. K. The Elizabethan Stage. 4 Volumes, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1923.
  • Finkelpearl, Philip J. John Marston of the Middle Temple. Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press, 1969.