The Herbal Bed

by John Whelan

directed by Sheana Carrington

Performed at the

Maskers' Studio Theatre


Tuesday 21th to Saturday 25th October 2003

THE HERBAL BED is based on actual events that occurred in Stratford-upon-Avon in the summer of 1613, when William Shakespeare's elder daughter Susanna Hall was publicly accused of having a sexual liaison with Rafe Smith, a married neighbor and family friend. Susanna sues her accuser, young Jack Lane, for slander in the court of Worcester Cathedral. Susanna's husband, the respected physician of Stratford, John Hall, is desperate for her to clear her name in order to save his practice, and he gives her his complete support. But how can he avoid the fact that one summer's night, while he was away from Stratford, Rafe Smith was seen secretly leaving their herbal garden? Faced with political divisions within the church, the hearing in the Bishop's Court becomes a risky gamble as three people's private lives are held up to the glare of intense public scrutiny in this emotional thriller whose outcome is anything but certain.

Peter Whelan

Peter Whelan was born in the potteries in 1931. Most of his plays have been premiered by the Royal Shakespeare Company and The Herbal Bed is no exception. A modern piece, it is set in Stratford-Upon-Avon in 1613 and has an authentic historical background, centering on Susanna, the eldest daughter of William Shakespeare who married John Hall the eminent physician in 1607.

The play unfolds around a public accusation of adultery that tests the relationships of all the main characters and also throws light on the harsh realities of life in post-Elizabethan Britain.

Cast (in order of appearance)
John Hall Martin Caveney
Susannah Hall Maria Hutchins
Elizabeth Hall Cicely Blandford, Phoebe Blandford, Lydia Caveney
Hester Fletcher Emma Carrington
Rafe Smith Johnny Carrington
Jack Lane Matt Avery
Bishop Parry Graham Buchanan
Barnabus Goche Philip de Grouchy
For the Maskers
Production Manager Graham Buchanan
Stage Manager Helen White
Lighting Design Nathan Weeks
Lighting Operator Ivan White
Sound Lawrie Gee
Photography Clive Weeks
Programme Sandy White
Set Design Ken Spencer
Set Construction and Painting Students of Southampton City College
Props Ella Lockett & Gill Buchanan
Costumes Serena Brown
Publicity Jan Ward


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Maskers Theatre Company
Off Emsworth Road
SO15 3LX

Registered Charity 900067

Established 1968

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