Yes, this is a real story, and no it’s not a joke (at least it doesn’t read that way). This title piece in a short-story collection by writer and literary critic Arthur Quiller-Couch (who wrote under the pseudonym–get ready for it–“Q”) is in fact a bizarre yet clever mashup of Shakespearean narrative and mythology. On the surface, Quiller-Couch is fictionalizing the night that Richard Burbage and the Lord Chamberlain’s Men, unbeknownst to their landlord, took apart The Theatre and transported the lumber to a storage facility near the Thames, where those same building materials would eventually be used to construct the Globe. Sort of a bizarre moment in Shakespearean history in and of itself, but it did happen on December 28, 1599 (not on Christmas eve, which is when Quiller-Couch’s tale is set). On another level, however, the story is a retelling of Henry IV, Part Two, with Shakespeare as Prince Hal and John Shakespeare, William’s father, as Falstaff.
To be honest, I have yet to wrap my brain around this piece, so I have to offer it up to you Fickle Readers in its pure and unanalyzed state. The story is ripe for criticism, though. I invite you to have at it, and if you have any cool observations, please share.
Merry happy, everyone!