The Changeling, by English dramatists Thomas Middleton and William Rowley, was first performed at London’s Phoenix Theatre in 1622, during the period known as the Jacobean age. The play was first printed in London in 1652 or 1653. A dark story of lust, murder, and adultery, with a comic subplot set in a lunatic asylum, The Changeling was a popular play in its own day, but then fell into neglect. The last performance before modern times was in 1668. Interest in the play renewed in the twentieth century, and since 1930, there have been numerous successful productions in Britain and the United States.
The Changeling is considered to be Middleton’s finest tragedy. It was common at the time for dramatists to collaborate, and Middleton and Rowley collaborated on five plays over a period of five years. For The Changeling, scholars believe that Rowley wrote the first and last scenes and the subplot, while Middleton was responsible for the main plot and the characterization of the major characters.
The Changeling takes its title from the fact that several characters go through changes that make them unrecognizable from what they formerly were or appeared to be—such is the power of love and lust.