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Synopsis and Characters


A woman in a tie-dyed shirt and shorts stands next to a woman in a yellow sweater. A woman in a gray beanie, jeans, and a blue t-shirt squats next to them.
Lizzie Bourne, Genevieve VenJohnson, and Morgan Lavenstein by Michael Brosilow.
  • Fen takes place in the Fens of eastern England in the 1980s, a swampy, bog-like region that is economically depressed. A businessman introduces audiences to this land and region, calling it the “most expensive earth in England.”
  • Women work as laborers in the fields, digging up potatoes and bagging onions. One of these laborers, Val, wants to leave her children with her husband and flee to London with her lover, a fellow laborer named Frank.
  • Frank struggles to confront his boss, Mr. Tewson, and ask for a raise, while Val struggles with the prospect of abandoning her daughters, Deb and Shona; her mother, May; and her grandmother, Ivy.
  • Angela, one of the laborers, harbors a crush on Frank and tortures her stepdaughter, Becky.
  • Becky, Shona, and Deb viciously taunt Nell, a villager and laborer whom they suspect of witchcraft.
  • Mr. Tewson, Frank’s boss, is unsure if he should sell his land to Miss Cade, a woman from the city. After a meeting with Miss Cade, a ghost terrifies Mr. Tewson, sharing stories of violence, exploitation, and atrocities.
  • Val seeks advice from Shirley, a villager and laborer, as Shirley juggles her domestic duties; Val also seeks solace in a prayer group and by spending time with family.
  • Frank and the women—not including Val—unwind at a bar. Frank and Nell commiserate, and Angela tries unsuccessfully to seduce Frank.
  • Desperate to be free of her circumstances, Val asks Frank for a favor. He obliges.

Please note: Fen includes themes of suicide, alcoholism, and racially and sexually offensive language. 


  • BUSINESSMAN: Works for an international Japanese company (played by Alex Goodrich)
  • MRS. HASSETT: 45; gangmaster who manages a group of workers (played by Lizzie Bourne)
  • MAY: 60; grandmother of Shona and Deb, mother of Val, daughter of Ivy; refuses to sing (played by Elizabeth Laidlaw)
  • IVY: 90; mother of May, grandmother of Val, great-grandmother of Deb and Shona (played by Lizzie Bourne)
  • VAL: 30; laborer in a relationship with Frank; mother of Deb and Shona, daughter of May, granddaughter of Ivy (played by Cruz Gonzalez-Cadel)
  • SHONA: 6; Deb’s sister, Val’s daughter, May’s granddaughter, Ivy’s great-granddaughter (played by Genevieve VenJohnson)
  • DEB: 9; Shona’s sister, Val’s daughter, May’s granddaughter, Ivy’s great-granddaughter (played by Morgan Lavenstein)
  • NELL: 40; laborer, looks out for her friends (played by Elizabeth Laidlaw)
  • SHIRLEY: 58; laborer; mother and grandmother many times over; believes in working to get through life; married to Geoffrey (played by Genevieve VenJohnson)
  • GEOFFREY: 60; upset about the way the world is now; married to Shirley (played by Alex Goodrich)
  • ANGELA: 28; laborer; Becky’s stepmother (played by Morgan Lavenstein)
  • BECKY: 15; laborer; Angela’s stepdaughter (played by Lizzie Bourne)
  • MRS. FINCH: 40; minister’s wife and leader of Baptist women’s group (played by Morgan Lavenstein)
  • MAVIS: 30s; member of Baptist women’s group (played by Elizabeth Laidlaw)
  • MARGARET: 30s; member of Baptist women’s group (played by Genevieve VenJohnson)
  • ALICE: 35; laborer and Baptist; defends her friends (played by Lizzie Bourne)
  • WILSON: 16; new to the group of laborers, and the only boy in the group (played by Alex Goodrich)
  • GHOST: 19th century laborer (played by Cruz Gonzalez-Cadel)
  • MR. TEWSON: 55; farmer (played by Alex Goodrich)
  • FRANK: 30; laborer for Mr. Tewson (played by Alex Goodrich)
  • MISS CADE: 35; from the city; wants Mr. Tewson to sell his farm (played by Genevieve VenJohnson)

Character Map

This play has 22 characters and only 6 actors. The roles are double, triple, quadruple, and even quintuple-cast, meaning that each actor plays more than one role. Check out this character map that helps highlight relationships between the characters. Mrs. Hassett is the gangmaster of everyone in blue, and Mr. Tewson is Frank’s boss (in yellow).

Pictured is a graphic demonstrating key relationships between some of the characters in Fen. Mrs. Hassett, the gangmaster, is written above a group of workers. The group includes Val, Shirley, Nell, Angela, Becky, Alice, and Wilson. Angela is identified as Becky’s stepmother. Above Val are listed her mother, May, and her grandmother, Ivy. Below Val are listed her children, Deb and Shona. Next to Val, connected by a dotted line and a heart, is Frank. Above Frank is listed his boss, Mr. Tewson.

Posted on January 25, 2023 in Learning Guides, Productions

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