The Duchess of Malfi

The Duchess of Malfi

By John Webster
Adapted and Directed by Tom Bradley
15 – 24 February 2024
Meat Market (Cobblestone Pavilion)
3 Blackwood Street, North Melbourne

Promising to be a true highlight at the onset of the 2024 Melbourne Arts Calendar, Arrant Knaves Theatre Company bring Melbourne audiences a dark and thrilling new adaptation of John Webster's defining masterpiece, The Duchess of Malfi.

Often regarded as one of the last great tragedies of the Elizabethan and Jacobean era, The Duchess of Malfi is based on a true story and begins as all great tales do… as a love story.

Set in the 1500s in Malfi, Italy, here we meet the Duchess; a widow who has fallen in love with her steward, Antonio, and determines to marry him against her brothers' wishes. The Duchess is an intelligent and valiant woman who conducts herself with integrity. By contrast, her brothers - the Machiavellian Cardinal and the volatile Duke Ferdinand - are controlling and duplicitous. Centring on the three siblings, who are each in their own way navigating political power, reputation, and a treacherous court, The Duchess of Malfi is a bloody and nightmarish tale that contrasts the romantic love of the Duchess and Antonio, with the obsessive and destructive love of Ferdinand for his twin sister.

"Although over 400 years old, Webster's play has a very modern feel to it," explains Arrant Knaves Artistic Director Tom Bradley.

"The sexual politics of the play are not so different from the sexual politics playing out in the world today. This is a play about the controlling of women by men. The control is exercised over women's physical bodies (literally by imprisoning them and ultimately by murdering them) as well as over their reproductive choices (by forbidding them a free marriage choice). It's also a play about the nature of the body politic. With this season, we've reimagined the play as a gothic horror. With strikingly theatrical sets and visually spectacular lighting, together with Webster's astonishing language, we're working to make this production a feast for all the senses."

Staged in the atmospheric surroundings of Meat Market's Cobblestone Pavilion, the design for this electric new production takes its cues from the world of gothic horror, drawing spectators into a fascinating web of intrigue and fear. Also inspired by Grand Guignol Theatre with a Steam Punk/Jacobean dress mash up and a tightened, engrossing script, it will be quite unlike any production Webster aficionados have witnessed before.

Based in Melbourne and founded in 2015, Arrant Knaves Theatre Company are a company of theatre makers who work to reimagine classical play texts and gain new insights into how these works reflect the fault lines that exist in contemporary society.

Running for a limited season from the 15th to the 24th of February their latest production brings together an out-standing team of Australian cast and creatives and promises a compelling and dynamic night out for Melbourne audiences in the new year.


Directed by Tom Bradley
Performed by Tyrie Aspinall, Chris Boek, Tom Bradley, Christina Costigan, Christien Dariol, Flynn Davis, Sophie
Graham, Bruce Langdon, Yvonne Martin, Justin Parslow, and Marisa Warrington
Set Design by Harry Gill
Lighting Design by Sidney Younger
Production Manager: Nicole Riley
Promo Images by Daniel Rabin Photography
15 – 24 February 2024
Tues – Sat 7:30pm, Sun 5pm
Opening Night - 16 February 7:30pm
Tickets: $45 Full, $35 Concession, $25 Student
Bookings: online via
Location: Meat Market (Cobblestone Pavilion) - 3 Blackwood Street, North Melbourne


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