The Alchemist


Writers: Ben Jonson


Show Information

Number of Acts
First Produced
Comedy, Farce, Satire
Period, Unit/Single Set
Time & Place
London, Seventeenth Century
Cast Size
Ideal for
College/University, Community Theatre, Mostly Male Cast, Professional Theatre, Regional Theatre
Casting Notes
Mostly male cast
Includes adult, young adult, mature adult characters


It is seventeenth-century London and the capital has been hit by an outbreak of the plague. Wealthy resident, Lovewit, flees to the country, leaving his townhouse in the hands of his trusted butler, Jeremy (known throughout the play as ‘Face’). No sooner has his master left, Jeremy begins turning the house into a den of criminal activity. Assuming the persona of ‘Face’, he brings in fellow conman, Subtle, and prostitute, Dol Common, to help him and sets out to rip-off half of London. Soon every knock at the front door is another unwitting victim quick to be relieved of their money. However, when Sir Epicure Mammon arrives, eager to seek out the Philosopher’s Stone, he brings with him a most unwelcome guest: Pertinax Surly. Surly by name and surly by nature, he becomes Face and Subtle’s nemesis, determined to unmask the con men and reveal them for the fraudsters they are. With a stash of gold, a rich widow and Lovewit’s unexpected reappearance, Face and Subtle’s scams suddenly get much more complicated. Face’s quick thinking leaves him with his job and livelihood intact, unlike Subtle and Dol who are forced to flee over the back wall…..without any gold….

Lead Characters

The Alchemist guide sections