Middling Liz I (1576 to 1589ish)

Still super selective here, there’s so much else going on and we’re running out of room per page. So, not so many translations or Latin plays at this time, just a few obvious choices which we’ll look at over the next few years. Dating varies, everything has a hinterland now… Go back to 1558 to 1575.


Common Conditions by the unknown – this is the latest this play can be dated, but it could live anywhere from 1558 to here – full of good episodes and singing pirates. First Look Exploring Session available on YouTube.

The Tide Tarrieth No Man by George Wapull – Exploring Session available on YouTube.


All For Money by Thomas Lupton – we’re not quite so sure this play should be dated this late, it could live anywhere in the early days of Elizabeth’s reign… but here it goes. Beware of the vomit on the floor, we’ve just gone to fetch a mop.

Abraham’s Sacrifice by Theodore de Beze and translated by Arthur Golding – Theodore de Beze wrote this play in 1550, and Arthur Golding finished translating it on Thursday 11th August 1575, but it was published this year. As far as we know it was never staged, but as print culture it may have had more influence than at first appears. It’s yet another variation on the Abraham and Isaac story, though with bonus shepherds and special guest star, Satan!


Promos and Cassandra by George Whetstone – we cannot know precisely when he wrote it, but it was printed this year, which is as good a public premiere as you’re going to get.


A Marriage Between Wit and Wisdom by Francis Merbury – yup, another one of them… this is the third iteration of the Wit and Science plays, starting the odd decade ago. It could have come about almost anywhere in the 1570’s, but we’re going for a later date. Exploring session available on YouTube.


The Arraignment of Paris by George Peele – Exploring sessions available on YouTube.

Thebais by Seneca, translated by Thomas Newton – the last of the Senecan translations, to complete the set for publication as Seneca, His Ten Tragedies. Firs Look Available.

Three Ladies of London by Robert Wilson – a not unproblematic play for Leicester’s Men, later to spawn a sequel which acquires three additional Lords with a probably transfer to the Queen’s Men.


The Rare Triumphs of Love and Fortune by The Unknown – this went rather well, and is doing really interesting things with gods and plotting and madness. First Look Exploring Session available.


Sir Clyomon, Knight of the Golden Shield & Clamydes the White Knight – yes, this is the second time we’ve put this play into this timeline – that’s because around about now it either gets written and/or appropriated by the Queen’s Men. And it’s great fun, so having it twice is no burden.

Fedele and Fortunio by Anthony Munday – this play starts so well, it’s full of great comic set pieces and wonderful business, thought the final resolution is a bit tricky to swallow. More to follow, we’re sure. First Look Exploring Session.

Campaspe by John Lyly – first surviving text by Lyly, in a run of plays lasting about a decade. We’ll be adding all his plays to this playlist as we go.

Dido by William Gager – this is one of the many plays in Latin that we don’t do, because… well… it’s in Latin. But other people have and a video about a modern performance is available thanks to the Early Drama at Oxford website. A documentary about Gager’s play, and Marlowe’s version of the story (produced by Edward’s Boys), directed by Maria Sachiko Cecire, is below.


Sappho and Phao by John Lyly – a first look exploring session is available.


1585 Lord Mayor’s Show – by George Peele. Or, the Device of the Pageant borne before Wolstan Dixie. The earliest extant printed pageant we have, with an additional account of the events of the 29th October. Exploring session available, with more to come.

Galatea by John Lyly – available as First Look Exploring Session on YouTube.


The Famous Victories of Henry V by Somebody – Exploring sessions available, first phase stop start read through with discussion, and also a Second Look non stop read through – all in the playlist. There’s additional work to come on Richard Tarlton’s role in this play. Keep ’em peeled.

The Hunting of Cupid by George Peele (fragment) – it’s impossible to firmly date this, it’s all a bit of a mess, but we had so much fun with these fragments. Enjoy.


The Troublesome Reign of King John by George Peele – this is the earliest this play could appear, it might be closer to 1589.

Alphonsus by Robert Greene – first of many plays by Greene, with much to enjoy. First and Second Look Exploring sessions available in the playlist. Skip to the Second Look here.

The Spanish Comedy of Don Horatio possibly by Thomas Kyd. This play is lost, apart from possible surviving elements in The First Part of Hieronimo – which is a later comedy spoof – follow this link to view work on what we call Jeronimo! It’s fab. Discover more in the next entry.

The Spanish Tragedy by Thomas Kyd – exploring session available. We explored this back to back with Jeronimo! (see above) and it was glorious. We’ve done this play three times now, all in the below playlist. To skip to the last iteration of fast paced Second Lookness, Act 1 to 3.7 and Act 3.8 to End. We’ve also run a session on the later additions.

Tamberlaine the Great by Christopher Marlowe – not to be confused with Tamberlaine the Great part 1 or 2, this is when the original play came about, with material that was cut when printed and before the second part was a twinkle in Marlowe’s eye. Here’s the prologue…

And here’s a playlist for our exploration of both plays…

Dido, Queen of Carthage by Christopher Marlowe and Thomas Nashe – First and Second Look exploring sessions available in the playlist below. Some people put this play much earlier, but it’s a tonic to place it after Tamberlaine, makes you think about it differently.

David and Bathsabe by George Peele – might live as early as this, but we’ve gone with a later date to place our videos.


A Looking Glass for London and England by Thomas Lodge and Robert Greene – as usual, dating varies, but this play could live about here, or as late as 1591. It’s a spectacular Biblical epic, and other play from this period which is almost uncategoriseable – exploring session available on YouTube.

We also have looked at the epilogue to the play separately on the podcast.

The Misfortunes of Arthur by Thomas Hughes – First & Second Look Exploring sessions available for this neo-classical history play. Skip to the first of the fast paced Second Looks here. Dolphin’s Back produced a rehearsed reading of the play on Friday 14 June 2019, directed by James Wallace – the video of which can be found here.

The Wounds of Civil War by Thomas Lodge – an epic Roman history play, where all of the names sound familiar, but they’re not necessarily the person you immediately think of. The opening of the play is an absolute cracker. The playlist has a First and Second Look – to just watch the fast paced Second Look, follow the links (Act 1-3), (Act 4-5)

Endymion by John Lyly – A First Look Exploring Session is available.

Tamberlaine the Great, part two by Christopher Marlowe – see above for more, but here’s the prologue for the solus part two.

The Wars of Cyrus or the Tragical End of Panthea – performed by the Children of the Chapel Royal, this is a fascinating mixture with much to explore.

Three Lords and Three Ladies of London by Robert Wilson – sequel to the Three Ladies of London, First Look Exploring Sessions are available.


Taming of a Shrew by some human being somewhere. And boy is this a tricky devil for us to work on. It probably doesn’t quite live here in the timeline, but from around here till 1594 is the range of reasonable possibility. Opinions vary. Wildly.

Doctor Faustus by Christopher Marlowe and Thomas Nashe – again, this might originate in 1588, or later, but we’re putting it next to the Friar Bacon plays because it exists in conversation with them. Below is a playlist starting with our First Look exploring session – the Second Look follows.

Friar Bacon and Friar Bungay by Robert Greene – or perhaps we should call this, Friar Bacon – part one. There is a sequel that appears a few years later that survives in a slightly fragmentary state, known either as the second part of Friar Bacon or John of Bordeaux. It follows Friar Bacon in this exploring session playlist.

Midas by John Lyly – dating around here. First Look Exploring Session available.

Mother Bombie by John Lyly – it’s hard to be too precise about the order of Lyly plays in the late 1580’s, but somewhere about here. First Look Exploring Session available.

The Jew of Malta by Christopher Marlowe – exploring sessions available.

John a Kent and John a Cumber by Anthony Munday – though there is damage to the manuscript, there’s more than enough to stage this super fun play. Roll on John a Kent!

The Battle of Alcazar by George Peele – if there’s not a confusion of names, this play was quite popular in the next decade. An exploring session is available on YouTube

That’s it for the 1580’s. The 1590’s are pretty busy times for us, as the survival of plays improves. That said, there are lots of bumps in the road for the various playing companies. Go to 1590 to 1593.