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Synopsis and Characters


Three women stand in a group; the tallest has gray hair and is standing in the back. She has her hand on the shoulder of the woman in front of her. The woman in the very front of the group is wearing a red shirt.
Elizabeth Laidlaw, Cruz Gonzalez-Cadel, and Genevieve VenJohnson by Joe Mazza.

On the marshy fens of eastern England in the 1980s, ghosts of the past haunt the women who labor as tenant farmers in the potato fields and who lead lives essentially unchanged from their 19th-century forebears. When Val seizes on a new relationship as a path to escape the crushing bonds of work, poverty, and family, she is confronted with the explosive repercussions of her decision.

Employing astonishing theatrical imagery, Caryl Churchill’s Fen shows with grace and sly humor how the intricate pressures of gender and class both shape and distort the characters of women.

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)
  • BOY: Child from the 19th century tasked with scaring away crows (played by Morgan Lavenstein)
  • 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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