The City Madam

Dominic Hill, Artistic Director of the Traverse Theatre in Edinburgh, joined the RSC for the first time to direct a rare revival of Philip Massinger's 1632 comedy.

Wealthy merchant John Frugal takes pity on his penniless brother Luke and invites him to live under his roof with John's own haughty wife and two foolishly conceited daughters. As Luke plots to steal from his brother and his daughters arrogantly spurn worthy suitors, John plans to teach them all a lesson. 

Given four-star reviews by the Telegraph, the Times, the Independent and the Financial TimesThe City Madam played at the Swan Theatre during winter 2011, as part of our 50th birthday season.

Play trailer

The story of The City Madam

Sir John Frugal, a rich merchant, has redeemed his wayward brother, Luke Frugal, from prison and invited him to live in his home. Luke is treated as a servant by the materialistic Lady Frugal and her daughters, Anne and Mary. Lord Lacy, father of Sir Maurice (a suitor to Anne), meets Luke and questions whether Sir John cares for the welfare of the people he loans money to.

Hoist, Fortune and Penury, Sir John's debtors, claim they are unable to repay their loans. Luke pleads their cases and convinces Sir John to delay the settlement. Lord Lacy, overhearing, praises Sir John's charity but questions his treatment of Luke. Sir John vows to be guided by Lord Lacy. Meanwhile, Luke convinces his brother's apprentices, Goldwire and Tradewell, to steal from their master by forging his accounts.

Sir Maurice and Mr Plenty propose marriage to Anne and Mary, but when the ladies demand opulent homes and luxuries, the suitors retract their offer.

Shave'em the whore is visited by Ramble and Scuffle. A fight breaks out and Goldwire comes to her rescue disguised as a Justice of the Peace. Shave'em promises to be constant to Goldwire alone.

Meanwhile, Lady Frugal and her daughters learn that Sir John has entered a monastery due to their pride and disobedience, and that he has bestowed all his belongings to his brother. Luke embraces his new power and wealth, little knowing that Sir John has returned, disguised, to watch the disorder unfold.


Lucy Briggs-Owen – Anne 
Christopher Chilton – Dingem
Sara Crowe – Lady Frugal 
Liz Crowther - Millicent
Kammy Darweish – Old Tradewell
Nicholas Day – Lord Lacy 
Christopher Ettridge – Holdfast
Christopher Godwin – Sir John Frugal
Michael Grady-Hall – Scuffle
Alex Hassell – Sir Maurice 
Felix Hayes – Mr. Plenty
Matti Houghton – Mary 
Nathaniel Martello-White – Goldwire 
Andrew Melville – Hoist
Simeon Moore – Stargaze
Harry Myers – Getall
Pippa Nixon – Shave'em
Chiké Okonkwo – Tradewell 
Oliver Rix – Ramble
Timothy Speyer – Penury
Jo Stone-Fewings – Luke Frugal


Director – Dominic Hill
Designer – Tom Piper 
Lighting – Tim Mitchell 
Music and Sound – Dan Jones
Movement Director – Struan Leslie
Fights – Renny Krupinski 
Director of Puppetry – Rachel Canning
Magic Advisor - Chris Harding

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