The Changeling post-show Q&A at Southwark Playhouse. © Anthony Kelly

In Lazarus Theatre’s new reimagining of Jacobean drama The Changeling, adapter/director Ricky Dukes has taken his usual scalpel to the original text. In this case, losing the entire subplot set in an asylum.

Nevertheless, a madhouse motif runs throughout the production’s serving up of the already bonkers central plot – not least in Bobby Locke‘s zany songs about obsession, vengeance and stolen chastity, which three of the multi-roling ensemble cast belt out karaoke-style at heightened moments in the action.

The madness seemed to infuse Wednesday night’s balloon-popping, splash-zone eager audience, both during the performance and at a raucous post-show discussion. As Dukes himself noted, “the play ultimately asks: who is mad? Answer: all of us.”

For the discussion, I was first joined by members of the creative team – (middle row in video, left-to right) Lazarus artistic director Ricky Dukes, dramaturg Sarah Dustagheer, sound designer Sam Glossop and lighting designer Stuart Glover – and then, once they’d showered themselves free from the onstage blood, the cast – (back row) Hamish Somers, Mikko Juan, Kiera Murray, Mylo McDonald, Alex Bird and Jamie O’Neill, and (front row) Emma Wilkinson Wright, Dane Williams, Colette O’Rourke, Henrietta Rhodes and Olsen Elezi.

In The Changeling, co-authored by Thomas Middleton and William Rowley and first performed in 1622, De Flores (played by Jamie O’Neill) will do anything for Beatrice Joanna (Colette O’Rourke) … literally anything.

Beatrice Joanna has fallen in love with Alsemero (Mylo McDonald) but is betrothed to Alonzo (Alex Bird). With the help of her reviled ‘dog face’ servant De Flores, she murders her fiance. But when it comes to payment, De Flores wants her, not her money.

Their descent into hellish madness haunted by ghosts and lunatics, propelled by sex and obsession, leads to one of the greatest climaxes of the English stage.

Renowned for their powerful and modern reinventions of the classical canon, Lazarus Theatre’s previous acclaimed productions at Southwark Playhouse post-lockdown – all of which I’ve chaired post-show Q&As for! – include Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus and Oscar Wilde’s Salome.

The Changeling continues at London’s Southwark Playhouse Borough on Newington Causeway until 28 October 2023.

Q&A video

Q&A photos

Event photography by Anthony Kelly.

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