Four Thieves Vinegar by Christine Foster
In the sweltering summer of 1665 the Black Death sweeps through London. The doomed prisoners of Newgate plunge into debauchery - except for a young alchemist who believes he has discovered a surefire remedy for the deadly disease. Unfortunately the main ingredient is gold and to get that he and his cellmates must scheme and barter with the only currencies they have on hand: sex, wit and lies. Will the cure work, or - with a thousand dying every day on the streets above - is their best chance for survival to bar the door, stay put - and try to survive each other?
Keywords: Black comedy, history, Plague, Pandemic, prison, London,
Produced by 42nd Theatre Company, London UK 2017
Also produced by FourTails Theatre Company, Brighton Fringe, UK, 2019
Genre: Black Comedy
Run time: 90 minutes
Content note: Contains dark themes, references to death and dying. May be played in two acts or as a continuous long one act of about 90 mins.
Cast size: 4 actors
Male roles: 2
Female roles: 2
Casting note: Requiring essentially British accents, but any ethnicity which would have been present in London in 1665
Simon Holt 40-60
"A terrific atmosphere with strong period feel... the rogues gallery of characters have unexpected depths of compassion, meaning that it is hard not to be moved by their story."
- Andrew Curtis, London Pubs Theatre
"Four Thieves’ Vinegar manages to explore some interesting themes and develops characters well in just one act, avoiding predictability at every turn and with an emphasis on accuracy as well as entertainment. Not just for history buffs, this is a charismatic play that anyone can enjoy."
- Theatre Weekly - Four Stars
"All possible plaudits must go to the brilliant writer, Christine Foster. Not only is her writing excellent and sophisticated, but her level of research into the actual events depicted and her empathy for her characters are remarkable."
- Graham Archer, West End Wilma - Four Stars