Had there been English daily papers in 1551, the murder of Thomas Arden in his own home in Faversham would have been on the front page. He was 43 years old, a prominent member of the newly emerging middle class and his wife Alice had him killed.
Arden of Faversham (first staged probably round 1590) marks a milestone in English drama. It’s reality-drama, the first play to be based not on history or legend but on a real-life news story.
It’s the first comedy-thriller with two cut-throats failing their murderous enterprises while Alice Arden schemes and fervently makes declarations of passion to her lower-class lover Mosby.
It’s a remarkable play by a remarkable author who remains unknown, full of local references and told with the most jump-up-and-down-in-your-chair self-delighted relish.
This sparkling new version removes the structural flaws and usefully increases the number of female roles.