Direction: Joe Hill-Gibbins
Dramaturgy: Zoë Svendsen
Light: James Farncombe
Sound: Paul Arditti
Choreography: Maxine Doyle
Associate Direction: Tinu Craig & Jeff James
Cast: Alex Beckett, Daniel Cerqueira, Kobna Holdbrook-Smith, Henry Lloyd-Hughes, Charlotte Lucas, Jessica Raine, Duncan Wisbey, Howard Ward.
Production photographs: Keith Pattison
The changeling – by Thomas Middleton and William Rowley, first performed in 1622 – was the first full production I worked as a ‘dramaturg’. Together with Joe, the director, I pulled the play apart to try to understand how the play was structured, and what its motor was. To do so, I researched the social and historical context of the original production, as well as its reception and history since. Having explored the play in depth, Joe and I then worked on creating analogies for a contemporary audience better versed in visual than audio imagery.
We realised the play allowed for overlapping action, being made of two plots each of which are a distorted mirror of the other. Sometimes modern plays cut the comic ‘subplot’ – i.e. the scenes that take place in a madhouse – believing them to detract from the ‘serious’ drama of the ‘main’ plot. We rejected the classist assumptions built into this hierarchical separation. For each of the two worlds of the play reflect the other – both are tragic – and comic. The entwinement of comedy and tragedy refracted through both plots brings depth and intensifies the emotional impact of the characters’ experiences. The play is more interested in situation and reaction than character and intention. The characters are driven by desires that they act on without thought of the consequences – producing a dramaturgy of ‘unravelling’ as characters rush to avert disasters induced by their actions.
The production was remounted on the main stage of the Young Vic in Autumn 2012.