Nell Leyshon, the first female playwright to have her work staged at Shakespeare’s Globe, has written a play set in the noisy and chaotic world of 18th century London, in the city’s ancient hospital for the insane, Bedlam.
Bedlam is under the supervision of the prejudiced Dr Sidney Carew and his imbecile son, whose interests lie in containing rather than curing their patients. But with the arrival of the lovely country girl, May, and the appointment of a more enlightened and sympathetic governor, this inhuman regime starts to crumble, along with the sanity of the asylum keepers themselves.
Bedlam employs a cast that includes doctors (some mad), patients (some sane), a homicidal painter and a hypchondriac poet. Set against an anarchic backdrop of binge drinkers, gin sellers and ballad singers, Bedlam combines dance and song with scenes of lust, violence, absurd comedy and unexpected romance.
For more about Bedlam at Shakespeare’s Globe read the First Night Feature.