Martha Brown

Martha Brown

The Ballad of Martha Brown re-toured in September – October 2015 visiting: The Shelley Theatre, Boscombe, Newbury Corn Exchange, Bay Theatre, Weymouth College, Kington Langley Village Hall (RAW), Parabola Arts Centre, Cheltenham Ladies College, Quartz Festival, Queens College, Taunton, Merlin Theatre, Frome, The Plough Arts Centre, Torrington, The Flavel, Dartmouth, Burton Bradstock Village Hall (Arts Reach), The New Barn Theatre, Milton Abbey School (Arts Reach), Powell Theatre, Sherbourne School, The Square Chapel, Halifax, Stamford Arts Centre, Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury, Comrades Hall, Broadwindsor (Arts Reach). As well as 20 performances we also carried out 13 workshops at schools, colleges, youth theatres and with community groups.

For the re-tour of the show we were joined by two new company members Myles Nicol (who played John Brown) and Pete Ashmore (who played William Calcraft) and we were lucky enough to have Morag Cross back on the road with us, and of course, our trusty stage manager Matt Llewellyn Smith.

Expect the unexpected in Angel Exit’s latest original drama based on the life and times of Martha Brown, the last woman publicly hanged in Dorset.

1856. A tale of jealousy and passion. An ordinary woman and her ordinary husband, a hatchet grabbed in haste, a murder, a wrongly accused horse, a black silk dress, the hangman from London and the mob at the hang-fair who gawp in glee.

Presented in the company’s rich visual style, blending storytelling and striking physicality, this show is spliced through with wicked humour, an original score, live music and macabre songs as a grim chorus of hollow-eyed storytellers invite you into their mysterious world where reality and fantasy blur as the events of Martha’s life are played out under the constant stare of the gallows above.

‘Fans of Angel Exit will recognise the company's signature choreography, inventively weaving and interacting among each other and through the complex scenery. Movement is balletic and bleak moments are filled with dark humour, dancingand singing freshly created, amusing lyrics.’
‘The company has evolved a distinctive style and it has never been better employed than in this darkly comic retelling of the story of Martha Brown. Martha’s story is a shocking reflection on the ownership, sexism and blood-lust of the time, and Angel Exit have again found a hugely entertaining, visually stunning and choreographically astonishing way to tell it.’
‘A macabre comedy cabaret, the story of Martha Brown is told by a chorus using music, sounds and dance to tell her life in various creative ways. The imagery used is dark but also a lot of fun... an entertaining and illuminating play with a devilishly fantastic cast.’
‘Angel Exit's magic sparks humour and glee in this dark tale... a larky, lively show.’
‘This play is actually a lot of fun... a joyously satisfying romp with just five superbly talented and versatile actors... a joyous and inspirational interpretation of this sad story.’
‘A dark comedy that is full of pleasurable moments, music and visual fun... a powerful piece of theatre that transfixed the capacity audience with its imaginative set, innovative style and emotive storyline... Don't miss it!’
‘Black comedy runs through the veins of this production... a well paced piece of theatre, full of lovely moments drawn from their Dorset surroundings. With its lively blend of physicality, song and gallows humour... it never fails to entertain.’
‘An enviable reputation for vivid and unusual work... appealingly laced with oddball comedy.’
‘In this extraordinary concoction of music and physicality... Angel Exit amused with this past pleasure, with roars of laughter from the audience, feet thumping and rowdy encouragement.’
‘Tale of the Marshwood Murderess is quietly enjoyable... This retelling of the story of the last woman to be publicly hanged in Dorset has some lovely elements... a lively, rough-and-ready play with songs and accordion and fiddle accompaniment.’
‘This is a very original piece of theatre. Angel Exit’s approach is very physical, drawing on traditions of clown, chorus and buffoonery together with music, song and a great story these combine to give us both a humorously entertaining, yet heart wrenching story.’

In 2014, The Ballad of Martha Brown was performed by was performed by an ensemble of five: Simon Carroll Jones, Morag Cross, Tamsin Fessey, Lynne Forbes and William Wolfe Hogan. It was directed by Tamsin Fessey and Lynne Forbes, designed by Sarah Dicks and original music created by Tom Ball. Matt Llewellyn Smith built the set and toured as company stage manager. The script was written by Lynne and Tamsin with Amy Rosenthal, and the beautiful costumes were made by students from Arts University Bournemouth. The lighting was designed by Pete Clifton and the front of house display created by Chloe Loader.

The Ballad of Martha Brown completed a 30 date tour of the South West and South East May – June 2014. Thank you to all the venues we performed at: Deverills Festival, Wiltshire, The Spring Arts and Heritage Centre, Havant, Mumford Theatre, Cambridge, Theatre Royal, Margate, Pamphilon Theatare, Uckfield (Applause), Omnibus, Clapham, Llandinam Village Hall, Theatr Gwaun, Fishguard, Tacchi Morris Arts Centre, Taunton, Exeter Ignite Festival, The Haymarket, Basingstoke, Landmark Theatre, Ilfracombe, The Exchange, Sturminster Newton (Artsreach), Lighthouse Poole’s Centre for the Arts, Mowlem Theatre, Swanage, The Marine Theatre, Lyme Regis and Bridport Arts Centre.