The Changeling

The play was written and first performed in 1622 in a collaboration between Thomas Middleton – also known for plays including The Revenger’s Tragedy and Women Beware Women – and William Rowley. Although it is in the tradition of Jacobean tragedy and features many of the emblems of this genre; a ghost, a revenger, a severed finger, lots of blood and a high body count by the end; the psychological aspects of the drama and of the central relationship elevate the piece, in my opinion, above many of its contemporaries. It is a story that rewards the first-time audience member and the student of the text equally with its depth of character and universality of theme.

It is a play that is not without its challenges in terms of staging. I hope to use the intimate setting of the Ron Barber Studio to draw the audience into the play’s web of lust, deceit, intrigue and obsession. Physicality, both sexual and violent, will be a central feature of the production. Prior to beginning rehearsals, I would probably have advised that the play wasn’t suitable for children. Having begun to explore the language and the physical representation of its meaning and implications, I can confirm that it is definitely not for the faint-hearted or prudish!

Sex and lust are indelibly printed on the action and language of the play. It is a dark piece in many ways, choosing to explore what happens when a woman in a patriarchal society chooses to transcend social and moral boundaries in order to secure the husband of her own choosing. She enlists the help of a servant in her household, Deflores, with whom she has an intriguing relationship. Deflores is obsessed with Beatrice and finds every excuse to be near her, despite the fact that she despises him. She tries to manipulate him into helping her to escape a marriage of her father’s choosing but there is a high price to be paid for his complicity, something she doesn’t fully comprehend until the deed is done

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