More Middling Liz I (1590 to 1593)

The late 1580’s and early 1590’s are full of slightly tricky to precisely date plays – and is also the last flourishing of some of our favourite playwrights before early onset death disorder cuts their output somewhat. Go back to 1576 to 1589.


Pelopidarum secunda (The second generation of Pelops) – this is an interesting compilation/expansion of Greek/Roman tragedies, with material principally from Euripides Electra. Our alternative titles for the show are The Fall of the House of Pelops, or Pelops: The Next Generation. We need to get out more.

The True Chronicle History of King Leir and his three daughters – Another winner from the Queen’s Men repertoire – Both First and Second Look Exploring Sessions available on the playlist below – go to the Second Look direct here. There is also a look at the play in our Fantasy Production Meeting.

George a Greene by (probably not) Robert Greene – we’d like to be, but the Greene/Greene-ness of it all is probably a red herring. First Look Exploring session was done with Orlando Furioso, just skip ahead. Second Look fast paced session can be watched here. A Fantasy Production Meeting all about the play can be heard here.

James IV by Robert Greene – an exploring session on this most strange and wondrous play is available.

A Looking Glass for London and England by Robert Green and Thomas Lodge – as the dating varies, and there is evidence the play has a good ongoing performance history, we’re putting it here as well as 1588 – there’s an exploring session on YouTube

And there’s a look at the epilogue available below.

Fair Em, the Miller’s Daughter of Manchester, with the Love of William the Conqueror – exploring sessions available.

Edward the Third by Some People – First Look Exploring Sessions available.

Soliman and Perseda by Thomas Kyd – a roller coaster ride of a play. More deaths than you can shake a season finale of Game of Thrones at.

The Cobbler’s Prophecy by Robert Wilson – another problematic play by Wilson, albeit with some good comic business.

Love’s Metamorphosis by John Lyly – might date earlier, but this is the latest possible place for it. First Look Available.

The Woman in the Moon by John Lyly – another Lyly play that could date pretty much anywhere between 1588 to 1590 (some even posit later, but probably not). First Look Exploring Session available.

Lord Mayors Show by Thomas Nelson – or, the Device of the Pageant for John Allot on 29th October. This can be found midway through this video covering the three extant 16th century pageants.

Tarlton’s News Out of Purgatory – a prose short story collection, tied around the character of the late Richard Tarlton (d.1588). You can explore this work on YouTube.


Tancred and Gismunda, printing – Robert Wilmot (due to alleged public demand) published a reworked version of a play he was involved in in the late 1560’s. Watch our Second Look fast run at the text here.

Mucedorus – there are two fairly distinct versions, an early version (we call it the studio cut), and an extended version with more characters. Our Second Look session below covers the earlier iteration. The full playlist contains a lot at both texts together.

Arden of Faversham by the Unknown – we’ve done a First Look Exploring Session on this little beauty. We’ve also covered the play in an interview with Beth Burns of Hidden Room Theatre, skip past the opening five minutes or so…

The Life and Death of Jack Straw by Someone – Spoilers and Full Cast Audio Adaptation available on the podcast – with more to come.

Also available an exploring session read through, with introduction by Stephen Longstaffe, editor of a critical edition of the play.

The True Tragedy of Richard III – this is a Brechtian masterpiece, and we’re eager to make it happen. We’ve done a recording of the opening for the podcast…

And are also complete First and Second Look exploratory read throughs on YouTube… The two part Second Look, run at pace can be viewed in the playlist, or Part 1 here, Part Two here. A Workshop on the Jane Shore scenes can be viewed here.

Orlando Furioso by Robert Greene – a First Look Exploring Session and beyond is available in the playlist – skip to the Second Look run here.

The Lamentable Tragedy of Locrine – we’ve completed two looks at this history play – there are First Look, scene by scene exploring sessions available on YouTube (skip past the opening of the first video, which covers the tail end of Alcazar), and also a Second Look speed run through.

Edward I by George Peele – a first look at this history play, plus other material on the fascinating character of Queen Elinor is available in this playlist.

Amyntas’ Pastoral by Torquato Tasso, translated by Abraham Fraunce – Exploring Sessions available – CW: contains discussion of sexual violence.

Lord Mayors Show by George Peele – or, Descensus Astraeae, the Device of the Pageant borne before William Web. Covered in our exploring session for the three 16th century pageants, video above or can be viewed here.

Astrophil and Stella by Sir Philip Sidney – a sequence of poems, published in this year though composed some five years earlier. Full recording of the sequence in the playlist.


A Knack to Know a Knave – First Look Exploring Session available. It’s a mess, but it’s a fun mess.

Selimus by well no one’s super sure, some say Greene. It’s a Queen’s Men play, so it fits within that sort of thing envelop of stuff. The exploring session begins midway through the first video on YouTube, as we read it back to back with another play. Skip to about 57 minutes in.

Thomas of Woodstock – or Richard II, part 2. We shouldn’t really put the play here in the timeline, it’s been established that the play comes much later… but following on from Jack Straw above, here are the further adventures of the king. It’s such a good play and we will be going further with it.

John of Bordeaux, or Friar Bacon Rides Again by maybe Greene or some other people. Here presented in two videos from the exploring sessions.

Opening of the play.

Second session on John of Bordeaux.

Edward II by Christopher Marlowe – First Look Exploring Session available… there is a discussion on the play and the changing history of the figure of Edward II on the podcast. There’s also a look at a digital production discussed on the podcast here.

Summer’s Last Will and Testament by Thomas Nashe – First Look Exploring Session available. A filmed production by Edward’s Boys from 2017 is available on DVD from their website.


David and Bathsabe by George Peele – maybe written earlier, probably lives in the early 1590’s. Trigger Warning: some scenes of sexual violence early on in the play.

Tragedy of Antony by Mary Sidney (or Mary Herbert, or the Countess of Pembroke). Full cast audio adaptation in the works, exploratory work for the podcast is on the playlist available below. YouTube First Look Exploring Session HERE, and the sequel Cleopatra can be looked at here.

The Massacre at Paris by Christopher Marlowe – exploring session available.

Cornelia by Robert Garnier, translated by Thomas Kyd – Published next year, but he must have started it around about now. First Look Exploring Session Available

The Rising to the Crown of Richard III by Himself (via Giles Fletcher) – a narrative poem about Richard, part of a selection of narrative poems we’ve been playing with.

Cleopatra by Samuel Daniel – printed the following year, this is a sequel to The Tragedy of Antony, semi-commissioned by Mary Sidney (see above). We’ve done First Look Exploring Sessions, but there is a video of a complete production presented by the UCL Centre for Early Modern Exchanges, and performed at the Great Hall of Goodenough College, in Bloomsbury, London (2013) – you watch their wonderful work on Vimeo here.

Guy, Earl of Warwick by some guy probably. The play has been alternatively dated to 1620, but that possibly is as a later reworking of a play from about now. Jury’s out on that one, so here it goes too.

The Old Wives’ Tale by George Peele – before the plague came a full cast audio adaptation was in the works, but till then, two exploring sessions are available, a First and Second Look. Both in playlist below. There is also an episode of the Fantasy Production Meeting on the podcast, dedicated to imaging a future production of the play.

In late 1592 there was a nasty outbreak of plague that just wouldn’t go away. It disrupted the various playing companies, and coincided with the deaths and retirement of most of the playwrights we know and love. Marlowe, Kyd, Greene, and a tailing off of surviving dramatic output from Peele. When the playhouses and their companies get their act together from 1594 there’s much change and a lot of new faces. Go to 1594 to 1599.