Synopsis

A Mad World My Masters rehearsal image

The year is 1956. The war is over and the class system is breaking down. Lords and prostitutes mingle in the alleys. Jive and jazz fill the clubs of London's West End and none more so than Soho's infamous Flamingo Club.

Amidst the grit, grime and glamour, charming, cash-strapped bachelor Richard Follywit is out for all he can steal. The target? His rich, disapproving uncle Sir Bounteous Peersucker.

Follywit and his friends, disguised as 'Lord Owemuch' and cohorts, set out on an extravagant plan to trick as much money out of his unwitting uncle as possible. But Follywit's tricks and robberies don't always end as planned.

Meanwhile Mr Penitent Brothel just can't get the beautiful Mrs Littledick out his head. He decides he must have her. Unfortunately her extremely jealous husband stands in the way. With the help of Miss Truly Kidman (a prostitute and Sir Bounteous' mistress) Penitent Brothel concocts a cunning ruse to free Mrs Littledick from her husband and get her all to himself.

Dressed as a nun, Miss Kidman becomes Mrs Littledick's companion and moral guidance, promising to teach her the benefits of chastity and the dangers of adultery, much to her husband's approval. In reality, Miss Kidman schools Mrs Littledick in the art of seeming chaste while conducting an affair. The stage seems set for Penitent Brothel to finally have Mrs Littledick for himself. But as events develop he has to wonder if that is what he really wanted after all.

With characters mingling to create a mad, filthy mix of drunk lords, prostitutes, down-and-outs and cheats, events come to a head in the play's final act; a party at Sir Bounteous's manor. Here Richard Follywit pulls off his most audacious trick yet, Penitent Brothel is forced to face up to the consequences of his actions and, dressed up and drunk, Sir Bounteous finally gets the last laugh.

A Mad World My Masters

by Thomas Middleton

Swan Theatre
6 June - 25 October 2013

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Teaching Shakespeare