Compelling tale of Maria Marten’s murder in The Red Barn gets new staging in Ipswich
- Credit: Archant
Eastern Angles is reviving its critically acclaimed play telling the story of Maria Marten and her murder in the Red Barn with a UK tour next year
The tale of Maria Marten and the Red Barn Murder is one of the most compelling true stories to emerge from Suffolk's past.
Last year Suffolk-based rural touring theatre company Eastern Angles collaborated with writer Beth Flintoff to bring Maria Marten's story to life. The resulting play Polstead focussed on Maria rather than her killer William Corder.
The play was so successful that Eastern Angles are reviving it next year, giving it a new title, The Ballad Of Maria Marten, and sending it out on a national tour which will include a stop over at the New Wolsey Theatre in Ipswich.
This gripping drama brings to life an important piece of Suffolk history and is directed by Polstead director Hal Chambers together with Eastern Angles founder Ivan Cutting.
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It features an all-female cast with Elizabeth Crarer returning as the eponymous role and Susanna Jennings as Lucy. The production opens on Tuesday February 11 at the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough before touring to the New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich (February 20-22).
Hal described the original production as 'A thrilling retelling of Suffolk's real-life murder mystery'. In the summer of 1827, in a red barn in the vilage of Polstead, Maria Marten awaits her lover. The two had arranged to meet at the Red Barn, a local landmark, before eloping to Ipswich. Maria was never seen alive again. A year later her body is found under the floor of the barn in a grain sack, barely identifiable, and the manhunt begins.
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Maria's story sent shock waves throughout the country. The Red Barn Murder (as it became known) was national news, inspiring writers and filmmakers down the ages. It was the sort of gruesome tale that had all the hallmarks of a classic crime drama - a missing body, a country location, a disreputable squire and a village stuck in its age-old traditions.
Ivan Cutting said: "But in all this hysteria Maria's own story gets lost. Until now. Hal Chambers and Beth Flintoff's spine-tingling retelling rediscovers her story, bringing it back to vivid, urgent life."
Writer Beth Flintoff commented: "As soon as Ivan approached me to write the story of Maria Marten I was intrigued. I hadn't heard about her murder but was fascinated to hear about not just the story itself, but how it has been told to us. From the moment of the trial, the focus was on the murderer, not Maria. No one seemed to be looking carefully at the intricacies of her life, beyond the basics. So, I wanted to tell the story entirely from her point of view. We are often presented with stories of women as a 'victim' rather than as interesting, complicated people who had hopes and dreams, friends and lives of their own."
Producer Matthew Linley added: "Ever since I first saw Polstead in a tent on Debach airfield I knew that this was a show that needed to see a wider audience. It's a thrilling true life tale which is as joyful as it is murderous! So, I'm delighted to be working with Eastern Angles and Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough to bring Polstead back to life as The Ballad of Maria Marten.
The Ballad of Maria Marten is directed by Hal Chambers with Ivan Cutting and will be playing at the New Woley Theatre from February 20-22.