By Arrangment with the Royal Shakespeare Company
The Herbal Bed
By Peter Whelan
25 FEB - 28 MAR 1998 — Drama
Auckland Theatre Company
Susanna, daughter of the ailing William Shakespeare, is married to Doctor John Hall. Though a solid partnership, medicine rather than marriage is the source of the doctor's passion. However soft, Susanna's feelings for the local haberdasher Rafe Smith are noted by Dr Hall's recently dismissed apprentice Jack Lane. On an evening when John is away tending to a patient, Susanna prepares a treatment for her father whom she fears is the victim of gonorrhea. Knowing the Doctor is away, Rafe visits her and they succumb to their mutual longing. Their liaison is interrupted by the arrival of Susanna's servant, Hester, and a jealous and drunk Jack Lane. Jack wrongly assumes that the treatment Susanna is preparing is for herself, and spreads the rumor that she is the victim of "Cupid's arrow turned rusty". Jack's accusation compels Susanna and her husband to bring defamation lawsuit against him in the diocesan court at Worcester Cathedral. The Vicar-General's investigation revals that there may be some truth to the charges, and Susanna, her husband, her loyal servant and would be lover are forced to confront and maybe conceal what really happened one moonlit summer's night int eh good doctor's garden.