Beth Flintoff’s ‘The Ballad of Maria Marten’ opens at the New Vic Theatre on 26 February 2020!

The Ballad of Maria Marten, Beth Flintoff’s spine-tingling retelling of a real-life scandal that shocked the nation, will be brought to vivid life at the New Vic Theatre in Newcastle-under-Lyme from Wednesday 26 to Saturday 29 February 2020.

Leading the all-female cast of this captivating murder mystery is Elizabeth Crarer as Maria, alongside Suzanne Ahmet as Sarah/Lady Cooke, Emma Denly as Theresa/Peter, Jessica Dives as Phoebe, Sarah Goddard as Ann, and Susanna Jennings as Lucy.

The creative team includes: Director Hal Chambers; Designer Verity Quinn; Lighting Designer Zoe Spurr; Composer Luke Potter; and Movement Director Rebecca Randall.



In the summer of 1827, a young Maria Marten and her friends pine for escape from the sleepy, soulless Suffolk village of Polstead. A place stuck in its age-old traditions, life revolves around the humdrum human circle of life – marriages, births and deaths – in synchronization with the seasons. There’s a possible threat of starvation; the villagers plod stoically on regardless. But that kind of life isn’t enough for fiery Maria.

Her determination for a more exciting existence leads her into the company of a wealthy landowner. She agrees to meet her new lover at The Red Barn, a local landmark which will become infamous for her murder a year later, when Maria’s barely identifiable body is discovered in a grain sack. So what exactly went wrong on that sweet summer’s day, supposedly so full of promise?

‘The Red Barn Murder’ became national news and inspired numerous books, dramatizations and films with its classic crime drama motifs – a missing body, a country location, and a disreputable squire all at the centre of the story. Beth Flintoff’s retelling is a fresh take on the life and times of Maria Marten and the events that led to her gruesome murder.



Writer Beth Flintoff said:

“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.”

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