Shakespeare's Globe

Bedlam [2010]

Written by: Nell Leyshon
Directed by: Jessica Swale

What is madness? What is sanity? It is 18th-century London, noisy and chaotic. The city’s ancient hospital for the insane is under the supervision of the prejudiced Dr Sidney Carew and his imbecile son, whose interests lie in containing rather than curing their patients. But with the arrival of the lovely country girl, May, and the appointment of a more enlightened and sympathetic governor, this inhuman regime starts to crumble, along with the sanity of the asylum keepers themselves.

Employing a cast that includes doctors (some mad), patients (some sane), a homicidal painter and a hypochondriac poet, and set against an anarchic backdrop of binge drinkers, gin sellers and ballad singers, Bedlam combines dance and song with scenes of lust, violence, absurd comedy and unexpected romance.

Nell Leyshon won the 2005 Evening Standard Most Promising Playwright Award for Comfort Me With Apples.


  • Designer Soutra Gilmour
  • Composer Olly Fox


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