powered by FreeFind


Goblin Market

Cover to Cast Recording

Adapted from the poem by Christina Rossetti : Music by Polly Pen

Circle in the Square Theatre Downtown 13th April, 1986 (89 perfs)


Goblin Market is the story of two sisters, Laura and Lizzie, who return to their childhood nursery after many years' absence. Dressed in deep mourning and surrounded by piles of old toys and books, a rocking horse and a doll's house, they both discover and invent the world of their adolescence from an adult perspective.

It is a world of goblin men who hawk their luscious but deadly fruits in the haunted glen at twilight. Drawn to the glen by their cries, Lizzie, the more timid of the two sisters, warns the impulsive Laura. Laura, however, cannot resist the enticing fruit and purchases some with a lock of her hair. She greedily devours it. Returning home, she regales Lizzie with tales of the magical fruits, but Lizzie firmly urges restraint.

Unwilling to heed Lizzie's advice and impelled by her growing desires, Laura returns to the glen with Lizzie following behind. As Laura realises she can neither see nor hear the goblins and will never again eat their fruit, she throws Lizzie to the ground in despair. The sisters return home. Lizzie consumed with fears for her sister - and Laura possessed by nightmare visions. Day after day, without the poisonous fruit she craves Laura dwindles. Lizzie, driven by fears for her dying sister, she goes to the glen to confront the goblins and to buy their fruit.

The goblins try to force Lizzie to eat with them but she wildly repels them, grabs the fruit and runs home to Laura. In an expression of love and self-sacrifice, Lizzie offers the fruit to Laura as an antidote to the poison in her blood. Laura collapses, overcome with remorse and understanding of what Lizzie has risked for her sake. She gradually recovers under her sister's care.


Goblin Market is open to many interpretations. It has been variously described as a fairy tale for children, a religious allegory and an examination of Victorian sexuality and eroticism. At its emotional core, however, is the story of a very real and intricate relationship between two sisters.



Musical Numbers:

(in alphabetical order)

Come Buy, Come Buy
Do You Not Remember Jeannie
Here They Come
Like A Lily
Lizzie, Lizzie, Have You Tasted
Mouth So Charmful
Passing Away
The Sisters
Sleep, Laura, Sleep
Some There Are Who Never Venture
Two Doves
We Must Not Love


Piano/Conductor, Violin, Cello, Percussion