Arden of Faversham (Anonymous)



Show Information

Number of Acts
First Produced
Drama, Tragedy
Period, Multiple Settings
Time & Place
England, Sixteenth Century
Cast Size
Ideal for
College/University, Large Cast, Regional Theatre
Casting Notes
Mostly male cast
Includes adult, mature adult, young adult characters


The sixteenth-century domestic tragedy, Arden of Faversham, depicts the calculated murder of Thomas Arden by his wife, Alice, and her lover. The bloody killing was one of Tudor England’s most famous and enduring crimes. In this dramatic depiction of the murder, businessman, Arden, has had some excellent news. Through his ruthless business dealings he has come to possess a huge amount of land that used to be owned by the local Abbey. However, despite being a considerably wealthy man, Arden isn't happy with his life. He has recently found out that Alice is having a passionate affair with the steward, Mosby. But, what Arden doesn't realize is that his wife and her love have made a pact to murder him. They decide to use Mosby’s sister as bait and rope Arden's servant, Michael, and Clarke, an amateur chemist and local painter, into the plan. Clarke gives Alice and Mosby a deadly poison to slip into Arden’s food. However, their first attempt fails when Arden tastes something strange in his porridge and decides not to eat it.

While Arden is away on business, Alice meets with Greene, one of the many tenants who have been recently dispossessed by Arden. Alice realizes that Greene is desperate for revenge and she and Mosby pay him to employ some assassins to kill her husband. Greene’s assassins persuade Michael to leave Arden's door unlocked so that they can kill him in his sleep. However, Michael has a change of heart before the plan can succeed. Instead, he convinces the assassins to try and catch Arden on his return home. But their back up plan is foiled once more when the esteemed Lord Cheyne invites Arden to dinner and travels with the businessman through thick fog, meaning the killers miss their mark.

Despite a brief moment doubt over whether they are doing the right thing, Alice and Mosby devise a new plan. As Arden returns home, they flaunt their relationship in front of him, inciting him to fight. When Arden draws his weapon, the assassins arrive to kill him but end up wounded instead. Alice manages to convince Arden that the whole thing was a prank, and Mosby distracts him with a game of cards. The murderers creep out from their hiding place and finally succeed in killing the unsuspecting Arden. They hide his body but mistakenly leave some evidence behind.When Franklin and the Mayor unexpectedly appear, Arden’s murder is revealed and the guilty parties are sentenced to death.

Lead Characters

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