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The Alchemist (1996)


Company B, Belvoir Theatre

Playwright: Ben Jonson
Director: Neil Armfield

Geoffrey Rush … Subtle
Hugo Weaving … Face/Lungs/Jeremy
Gillian Jones … Doll Common
Max Cullen … Sir Epicure Mammon

The Alchemist is a play in five acts by Ben Jonson. It was first staged in 1610, probably at the Globe Theatre. Of his plays, this is most commonly considered the best, though some prefer Volpone or Bartholomew Fair.

The play is set in contemporary 17th century London, and concerns the adventures of three low characters, Subtle, Face, and Dol Common, who have set up a fraudulent alchemical workshop in order to swindle gullible townspeople.

Samuel Taylor Coleridge said that The Alchemist was one of the most perfectly constructed plots he knew, the others being Oedipus Tyrannus by Sophocles and Tom Jones by Henry Fielding.

Related Articles

[Recommending Doll’s ‘skills’ to Mammon]:She’ll mount you up, like quick-silver, Over the helm, and circulate like oil”

[Instructing Doll on how to entertain the Don]:”He shall be brought here, fettered With thy fair looks, before he sees thee; and thrown In a down bed, as dark as any dungeon; Where thou shall keep him waking with they drum ~ Thy drum, my Doll, thy drum ~ till he be tame”

[On Dame Pliant]: “She is a delicate dabchick! I must have her”

[About Drugger, behind his back]: “A miserable rogue, and lives with cheese, And has the worms. That was the cause indeed Why he came now. He dealt with me in private To get a medicine for ’em”

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