The Changeling is a tragedy written in 1622 by Thomas Middleton and William Rowley. Set in Alicante, it depicts a sordid tale of lust and murder set in a castle, alongside a more comic story set in an asylum for 'fools' and lunatics.
The play is currently being performed by the Cheek by Jowl theatre company (Declan Donnellan) at the Barbican Arts Centre, United Kingdom.
Act I scene i – Courtyard near harbour - Page 6
• Alsemero enters from church and tells us of his love for a woman he met there. • Jasperino enters from the harbour, reminding Alsemero that the ‘wind’s fair’ and that they should leave for Malta. • Alsemero tells him that he’s not ready to go yet. • Beatrice enters with Diaphanta and she is greeted by Alsemero. • Jasperino watches and comments while Beatrice and Alsemero flirt together. • Alsemero proposes to Beatrice but, in an aside, she reveals that she was recently engaged. Alsemero waits for an answer. • Jasperino resolves to get a girl for himself and sees Diaphanta. • Deflores enters to inform Beatrice of her father’s imminent arrival. • Beatrice tells him to go away, he backs off but still watches her. • Jasperino and Diaphanta have a conversation full of sexual innuendos. • Vermandero (who had been talking to the priest) joins Beatrice, causing her to change her behaviour. She introduces him to Alsemero. • Vermandero finds that he knew Alsemero’s father well, and they discuss him briefly. • Vermandero talks of Beatrice’s fiancé, causing her to say goodbye to Alsemero in preparation for her return home. • Vermandero does not allow this, inviting Alsemero back too. • As they leave, Beatrice drops her glove. Deflores picks it up and offers it to her but she will not take it. • Beatrice exits and Deflores closes the scene with a soliloquy.
Act I scene ii – Alibius’ madhouse
• Alibius starts to tell Lollio a secret. He says he cannot satisfy his wife sexually and fears she will be disloyal to him. • He asks Lollio to guard her for him and lock her up (Lollio agrees in the knowledge that he could be left alone with her.) • Antonio and Pedro enter. Pedro gives Alibius lots of money to take good care of Antonio. Lollio hints that he wants some too and Pedro grants him his wish. • Pedro asks for Antonio to be made clever, Lollio says he will ‘make him as wise as myself.’ • Pedro leaves, Alibius counts money. Lollio threatens to whip Antonio. • Lollio questions Antonio with short riddles. • Madmen shout, Alibius leaves with the money. • Lollio takes Antonio to the cells.
Act II scene i – A chamber in the castle – Page 23
• Beatrice gives Jasperino a note for Alsemero in secret. • In her soliloquy, Beatrice talks of how great Alsemero is and then how horrible Alonzo de Piracquo is. • Deflores enters (having been hiding) but Beatrice does not see him initially whilst he talks of his love for her and her hatred of him. • She sees him and gets angry because he stalls from delivering his message. Eventually he says that Alonzo and Tomazo have arrived. • He leaves after delivering another soliloquy. • Vermandero, Alonzo and Tomazo enter, Vermandero makes every attempt to be a welcoming host. • Tomazo points out to Alonzo that Beatrice seems disinterested. • Beatrice suggests that the wedding be put back by three days. • Vermandero and Beatrice exit. • Tomazo suggests that her ‘heart is lept into another’s bosom’.
Act II scene ii – Another chamber in the castle - Page 30
• Diaphanta leads Alsemero into a chamber secretly, whilst flirting with him. • Diaphanta leaves, Beatrice enters; they talk and embrace. • They talk about how they could ‘remove the cause’ by killing Alonzo. • Alsemero declares he will challenge Piraquo (meaning Alsemero would end up dead or in jail.) Beatrice protests. • Beatrice (aside) realises that she can get Deflores to kill Alonzo. • Beatrice shoves Alsemero back to Diaphanta (who’s overjoyed!) • Deflores enters (having been hidden.) • Deflores suggests that since she has two lovers, why not him too. • Beatrice decides to flirt with him. • Deflores agrees readily to commit the murder, thinking he'll be able to sleep with her afterwards. • Beatrice exits, Alonzo enters. • Alonzo asks for a tour of the castle. • They exit and enter through various doors.
Act III scene i & ii – A narrow passage / A vault (continued) - Page 38
• As they descend, Deflores advises that they leave their swords behind. • Alonzo, enjoying himself, looks out of the window. • Deflores stabs him twice. • Deflores removes his ring by cutting of his finger. • Deflores clears away the body.
Act III scene iii – A room in Alibius’ house - Page 41
• Isabella asks Lollio why she has been locked up. • Lollio claims it’s his masters’ wish. • Lollio makes some moves towards her. • Isabella requests to meet a madman she’s seen. • Lollio shows in Franciscus. • Franciscus moves towards Isabella but Lollio threatens him. • Isabella sees beyond his mad exterior. • Franciscus has an outburst of anger, beating Lollio. • Lollio puts Franciscus back in his cell. • Lollio brings Antonio to meet Isabella. • The madman make noises, Lollio goes to beat them. • As he leaves, Antonio reveals to Isabella that he is only a fake madman. • Antonio cannot convince her to love him but she agrees not to turn him in. • Lollio returns to ask Antonio some questions, then leaves again. • Antonio kisses Isabella, Lollio spies them. • Madmen dressed as birds interrupt their encounter, Lollio re-enters. • Lollio challenges Isabella about Antonio but agrees to keep it secret. • Alibius enters, oblivious. • Alibius tells them that their madmen will be performing at Beatrice’s wedding.
Act III scene iV – A chamber in the castle - Page 52
• Vermandero, Beatrice, Jasperino and Alsemero enter; only Vermandero does not know about Beatrice and Alsemero. • They all leave to look around the castle, except Beatrice. • Beatrice says that she’s starting to convince her father to like Alsemero. • Deflores enters with the intention of having sex with Beatrice, thinking this is what she wants too. • He tells Beatrice that ‘Piraquo is no more’ and then shows her the finger. • Beatrice pays him with the ring, then on seeing his confusion, raises the amount. • Deflores is disgusted at the idea of murdering for money, he murdered for Beatrice's love. • Beatrice, confused about why Deflores will not leave contented with money assumes that the amount he wants is much to high to actually announce out loud and suggests that he go away as planned and send her the amount he wants on paper. • Deflores demands she elope with him. • Deflores kisses her in a last ditch attempt to seal their love, but Beatrice reacts with disgust. • Deflores explains in meticulous detail exactly why she has to submit to him. His case is so watertight she has to agree. • Deflores tells Beatrice that he can now effectively blackmail her there is no way out. • Right at the end of the scene, he refers to what is probably his penis, suggesting that she is afraid of it, but she will come to love it soon. They exit so Deflores can have his way with her.
• Vermandero learns of the disappearance of Alonso. • Beatrice, the bride, enters with Diaphanta and Isabella. • Deflores enters and he sees the ghost of Alonso showing him the hand which Deflores cut a finger from.
Act IV scene i – Page 61
• Beatrice talks about her night with Deflores and wonders how she’ll do on her wedding night. • Beatrice examines Alsemero’s closet and finds a book about pregnancy and virginity tests. • Diaphanta enters, looking for Alsemero. • Beatrice offers Diaphanta 1000 ducats to replace her on her wedding night. • They both drink the virginity test, and Beatrice observes her symptoms.
Act IV scene ii – Page 66
• Vermandero finds that Antonio and Fransiscus have left the castle, causing him to assume that they murdered Alonso. • Tomazo enters, accusing Vermandero of taking his brother. • Vermandero says that Alonso left, and asks Tomazo to leave too. • Vermandero exits. • Deflores enters, Tomazo greeting him warmly, but he is reminded of the murder. • Deflores exits. • Alsemero enters, Tomazo is hostile towards him. • Tomazo challenges Alsemero to a duel after the wedding. • Tomazo exits, Jasperino runs in. • Jasperino tells Alsemero that he heard Beatrice and Deflores having sex. • Alsemero instructs Jasperino to go and get the virginity test. • Beatrice enters just before Jasperino returns. • Alsemero gives Beatrice the potion, she drinks, then acts out the symptoms.
Act IV scene iii – Page 74
• Lollio and Isabella read a letter which declares Fransiscus’ love for her. • Lollio says that if Fransiscus is getting her, he wants her too. • Isabella decides to dress as a madwoman and goes to do so. • Alibius arrives and asks about the wedding. • Alibius then asks how Isabella is getting on, then exits. • Antonio enters, and Lollio forces him to dance. • Lollio exits, and Isabella enters in her new clothes. • Isabella attempts to kiss him but Antonio resists. • Isabella exits, Lollio comes back to talk to Antonio. • Fransiscus enters, Lollio reads the letter he wrote to Isabella. • Alibius enters, and Lollio goes to fetch the madmen. • All the madmen dance for the wedding.
Act V scene i – Page 83
• Diaphanta and Alsemero are heard having sex offstage, Beatrice listens in anger. • Deflores enters, and comes up with a plan to set the castle on fire, and then to kill Diaphanta. • Beatrice agrees, even suggesting that she now loves Deflores. • Alonso’s ghost appears and haunts Deflores and Beatrice. • Deflores lights the fire, offstage, then leads the group of resisdents who attempt to douse it. • Diaphanta appears, Beatrice tells her to return to her chamber. • Vermandero enters, followed by Alsemero and Jasperino. • The gunshot is heard, signifying Diaphanta’s murder. • Deflores comes in, heroicially carrying Diaphanta’s burnt body from the fire. • Deflores is promised financial reward for his bravery.
Act V scene ii – Page 91
• Tomazo, still angry, starts to blame Deflores for the murder, even though he has no reason to do so. • Tomazo hits Deflores, who draws his sword in defence but does not strike. • Deflores is puzzled by this, but exits. • Alibius and Isabella enter with Vermandero. Tomazo tells them to go away. • They inform Tomazo about Antonio and Fransiscus’ disguise and their time of departure from the castle.
Act V scene iii – Page 95
• Jasperino and Alsemero have seen Beatrice and Deflores together in a garden and are discussing it. • Beatrice enters, Jasperino hides. • Alsemero accuses Beatrice of being a liar and a whore, and suggests she’s been cheating on him with Deflores. • Alsemero throws Beatrice in the closet. • Deflores enters, Alsemero gets him to admit murder, then throws him in the closet with Beatrice. • Vermandero, Alibius, Isabella, Tomazo and Fransiscus enter, thinking the case is solved. • Screams of pleasure and of pain are heard within the closet, and the pair falls out, stabbed. • After some final words, the pair die. • The remaining characters console each other.