The Changeling (1974)

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Poster by Poster Designer

by Thomas Middleton & William Rowley

Directed by Director's Name

Performances: 28th April – 4th May 1974, Theatre


Text about the play



Not recorded in archive book


After a shuddering outbust of horror from the wronged husband Alsemero (Ray Jones, his dissembling wife Beatrice (Midge Adams) comes forth, bleeding profusely from the throat, with her ill-favoured lover De Flores (Colm O'Neill) erect, defiant, like an angel of destruction.

Against a tableau of frozen grief in which the murdered Piracquo's brother participates equally with the counterfeit madmen Antonio and Franciscus, the guilty pair superbly play out the final act of their tradgedy.

If the rest of Jill Clark's production were on the same level of magnificence as this closing scene, its place would be assured at the pinicle of the South London Theatre Centre's achievements. As things stand we must still welcome it, with all its unevenness, as a fine and imaginative piece of theatre.

"The Changeling" concerns change on many levels, with corruption running like a dark thread through its plotting. Thomas Middleton was chiefly responsible for the main plot, William Rowley for the comic sub-plot in the madhouse, where the feigning madmen lay siege to the principal's wife, in a distorted mirror-image of the satanic liason betweeen De Flores and Beatrice-Joanna.

It is of course the latter which raised the play to the rank of one of the greates of all Jacobean dramas. Midge Adams perceptively grasps the terrible, ghastly innocence, almost dreamlike, in which she plunges to destruction and in which, steeped in blood, she can descant upon her honour.

Colm O'Neill, chillingly made up like a squat toad of a man, foul of visage and often lurking behind the action like a black shadow, is undoubtedly the best of S.L.T.C.'s actors to play such a role as the damned De Flores. Yet he sometimes uses his fine voice to much less than its full effect. He is jaunty when he should be full of menace ("Here comes the man who goes sceperless to bed ") and the murder of Piracquo nees a more grimmer measure in its execution.

The production features a finely, atmospheric dumb show and a chilling edge in the madmen's rehearsal. Dennis Packham's Alibius wants more control the palsied of old age, and it is left up to Mike Mattey's Lollio to supply the sardonic humour of the sub-plot. Kate Staog as Isabell, with a hairstyle to match that of Beatrice-Joanna, is teasingly cunning, and the fools and madmen have a certain baroque grandeur.

Of the rest, Ray Jones brings the highest distinction to Alsemero, proving himself an actor of explosive potential.

Donald Magewick, The Croydon Advertiser.


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