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July 14, 2018 / basabbott

Revised Murder in the Red Barn

Review

Polstead
Eastern Angles

The Murder of Maria Marten in the Red Barn spawned a century of melodramas.
The spotless maiden, done to death by the dastardly squire, thrilled the Victorian stage.
It wasn’t really like that, of course, and was never seen from the point of view of the girl.
Beth Flintoff’s play tries to put that right by depicting the human being behind the image.
She and her circle are depicted by six actresses, so the villainous William Corder never appears.
Although accents are all-purpose rural and some scenes rather ‘all loving girlies together’, there is a real attempt to show 1820s Suffolk, in Hal Chambers’ production.
Elizabeth Crarer, visually like Winona Ryder in The Crucible, creates a Maria with all the troubles and emotions of a girl of her time. It is a harrowing personal journey, drainingly well acted.
Sarah Goddard brings life and soul to the part of her stepmother. Lydia Bakelmun, Lucy Grattan, Bethan Nash and Roxanne Palmer double expertly as local girls and gentry.
After all the ouch-making plays and films, this is a welcome revisionist version of the story.

Basil Abbott

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