Arden of Faversham played in the Swan Theatre from April to October 2014. It was part of our Roaring Girls season.

Play Trailer

Wealthy businessman Arden is convinced his wife Alice is cheating on him. He is correct – but he doesn't know the full story. Determined to free herself from a miserable marriage, Alice is in fact plotting to have him murdered.

Arden of Faversham, author unknown, was first printed in 1592.

Polly Findlay directed the play and the role of Alice Arden was played by Sharon Small.


Joe Bannister - Lord Cheyne
Ian Bonar - Michael
Peter Bray - Lord Cheyne's man
Elspeth Brodie - Susan
Colin Anthony Brown - Bradshaw
Keir Charles - Mosby
Geoffrey Freshwater - Franklin
Lizzie Hopley - Mrs Reede
Joan Iyiola - Watch
Tony Jayawardena - Shakebag
Christopher Middleton - Clarke
Ken Nwosu - Ferryman
Ian Redford - Arden
Jay Simpson - Black Will
Sharon Small - Alice Arden


Director - Polly Findlay          
Designer - Merle Hensel 
Lighting - Lee Curran             
Music & Sound - Dan Jones      
Movement - Imogen Knight                         
Fights - Bret Yount

Synopsis - the story of Arden of Faversham


Arden of Faversham is a domestic tragedy (author unknown), depicting the murder of Thomas Arden, by his wife and her lover.

Arden has had some excellent news. Through his ruthless business dealings he has come into possession of a huge amount of land once owned by the local Abbey.

But despite his great wealth, Arden isn't happy. He has learned that his wife Alice is having an affair with a lowly steward, Mosby. What Arden doesn't know is that the lovers have made a pact to murder him.


Using Mosby's sister Susan as bait, the murderous pair involve Arden's servant Michael, and Clarke - a local painter and amateur chemist.

Clarke gives Alice and Mosby a potent poison to administer to Arden.

The plot fails when Arden tastes something strange in his porridge. He and his companion Franklin head to London on business.


With Arden gone, Alice is left to deal with the visit of Greene, one of the many tenants recently dispossessed by Arden. Seeing that the furious Greene is desperate for revenge, Alice pays him to employ some assassins to kill her husband.

Greene hires the notorious criminals Black Will and Shakebag. These two assassins persuade Michael to leave Arden's door unlocked so that they can kill him in his sleep.

A change of heart on Michael's part leads to the failure of the plan, but when the killers threaten to punish him for his betrayal, Michael convinces them to catch Arden as he travels home through Rainham Down.

Mosby takes charge

Back in Faversham, Mosby laments the number of people who know of the plan to murder Arden, and decides to have them all killed.

When Alice comes to Mosby with her own misgivings, the pair come close to breaking off their relationship. However at the peak of their passion they reconcile themselves once again to their pact.

About to strike...

At Rainham Down, at the very moment when the killers are about to strike, the esteemed Lord Cheyne appears to prevent the act. He invites Arden and Franklin to dinner and accompanies them safely on their way.

Foiled once again, Will and Shakebag arrange to ambush Arden on his way to Cheyne's house on the Isle of Sheppey.

Thick fog means killers once again miss their mark, so Alice devises a new plot. Meeting Arden as he returns from Cheyne's home, Alice and Mosby will flaunt their relationship in front of him, inciting him to fight. When Arden draws his weapon the murderers will arrive and kill him.

The fight goes wrong though, and both Shakebag and Mosby leave wounded.

Stop reading now if you don't want to know how the story ends ...

One last scheme

Alice manages to convince Arden that the whole thing was a prank, and sends him after Mosby. The two make peace and Arden invites Mosby to dinner. Meanwhile the murderers agree upon one last scheme.

Mosby distracts Arden with a pre-dinner game of cards. Will and Shakebag creep from a hiding place and finally succeed in murdering the unsuspecting Arden.

The killers hide the body, but in all the confusion evidence is left in abundance. When Cheyne and the watch unexpectedly appear, the murder is discovered and the guilty parties are sentenced to death.

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