Renaissance Genoa, and the sarcastic jester Malevole moves through its ducal court, dishing out his caustic commentary on the people attached to the city’s usurping duke: his lustful duchess, Aurelia; her lover Ferneze, and the vicious operator, Mendoza (the real power behind the throne). But this Malevole – this ‘malcontent’ – is not at all what he seems, for he is in fact Genoa’s rightful duke, bent on recovering his stolen birthright and exposing the filth and lies around him.
John Marston’s finest play was first performed in the Blackfriars playhouse by the Children of the Chapel, and later adopted and amplified by Shakespeare’s own company. With its obsession with lust, greed and violence, its dense Shakespearean allusion, Machiavellian villainy and savagely satirical comedy, The Malcontent is one of the masterpieces of the renaissance stage and perhaps the greatest Jacobean tragicomedy.
The Malcontent was performed by the Globe Young Players, a new company of talented 12 to 16-year-olds specially selected and trained by the Globe’s resident experts in the craft and performance of early modern drama.