The Barn Theatre, Southwick Community Centre.
November 12, 13 & 14, 1964.
The Murder of Maria Marten Or The Red Barn
by Brian J. Burton
J. Hopper – Alice
J. Perrett – William Corder [Squire’s son]
P. Power – Thomas Marten [honest rustic]
R. Hopper – Tim Bobbin [simple rustic]
F. Cowling – Johnny Badger [aspiring swain]
R. Workman – Pharos Lee [officer of the law]]
M. Payne – Maria Marten [Thomas’s daughter]
M. Hammond – Mrs. Marten [Thomas’s wife]
F. Sturt – Anne Marten [Thomas’s young daughter]
I. Pilcher – Meg Bobbin [Tim’s sister]
J. Porter – Nell Hatfield [gypsy]
S. Porter – Rosa Post [gypsy]
D. Burnside – Petera Andrews [gypsy]
M. Perrett – Village Folk
F. Thorne – Village Folk
P. Carpenter – Village Folk
T. Mase – Village Folk
Stage Manager – Mr. Ian Elliott
Lighting – Mr. F Hurrell
Wardrobe – Mrs. M. Bowen
Property – Miss. P Dorman
Property – Miss. D. Burnside
Programme Note: The Murder of Maria Marten Or The Red Barn
“When first they wrote of poor Maria’s plight,
All things were black, or pre-detergent white.
Actors declaimed the tale in manner splendid
And good must triumph when the story ended
Now played to you, dear
Audience of today
Schooled in the shades of
Though you may laugh at
All the deep dyed rage
You still may boo the
Villain from the stage.”
Review #1: The Murder of Maria Marten Or The Red Barn
Publication: Shoreham Herald
Publication Data: November 20 1964 issue – page 14
Text Header: “MELODRAMA WENT HISSING ALONG”
A RICH helping of real old Victorian melodrama tickled the palates of last weekend’s large audiences at the Wick Theatre Company’s production of a new version of The Murder of Maria Marten or The Red Barn, by Brian J Burton at the Barn Theatre, Southwick. It was their entry in the Sussex Rural Community Council’s full-length Drama Festival, with an adjudication on the opening night by John Nicholson.
Here was audience participation on the grand scale, for the specially produced old-fashioned programme invited boos for the deep-dyed villain, the squire’s son who got the trusty village maid into trouble, poisoned their child and then shot the poor girl – plus a scheming gypsy woman out for revenge on him.
It was great fun hissing him, but greater fun when he hissed back! There were frequent interjections such as “shame!” and “watch it” and everybody had a remarkably good time. About a century ago, of course this was the real stuff of the stage, but thanks to the delightful ‘guying’ of their rôles by the whole cast, this modern version was one long laugh – grim though the dark deeds were.
Produced by Betty Elliott, with a keen appreciation of the wealth of comedy this period piece afforded for today’s sophisticated audiences, and with Ian Elliott as stage director, the play reflected the highest credit on all concerned. The rustic, besmocked characters, some not too quick on the uptake, were ripe for ridicule on the grand scale, and top-hatted J. Perrett, as the villainous William Corder, more than justified his selection for this pivotal rôle. An admirable choice for luckless Maria was M. Payne, all big-eyed, trusting innocence, and R. Hopper, as simple Tim Bobbin, helped the production leagues on its merry way.
There were diverting studies, vigorously over-played as circumstances demanded, by J. Porter [Nell Hatfield, the gipsy]. F. Sturt [Anne Marten], P. Power [Thomas Marten, the droll honest rustic], I. Pilcher [Meg Bobbin], F. Cowling [Johnny Badger]. R. Workman [Pharos Lea] and M. Hammond [Mrs. Marten]. Ably appearing as gipsies were S. Porter and D. Burnside; village folk were played by M. Perrett, F. Thorne, P. Carpenter and T. Mase, and new comer J. Hopper pleased as Alice.
P. Johnson, at the piano, brought aural ‘atmosphere’ in tune with the lavish display of sentiment unfolded by the action. The varies scenery was excellent. Lighting was by F.Hurrell, the wardrobe mistress was M. Bowen, and P. Dorman and D. Burnside were property mistresses.
Each performance was a night to remember.
Review #2: The Murder of Maria Marten Or The Red Barn
Publication: Brighton & Hove Gazette
Text Header: “Here was the real stuff of Melodrama”
From the delightful programme in the style of an old time playbill, to the final hiss at the villain, The Wick Theatre Company’s production of The Murder of Maria Marten or The Red Barn was a sheer joy. A notable feature of the production was what we should now call ‘mood’ music. It was selected with skill and insight by Patrick Johnson who, resplendent in top hat and tails, played it on the piano.
The artists showed themselves to be ‘with it’ in various degrees, and outstanding was Jean Porter as the sinister gypsy, Nell Hatfield. Here indeed was the real stuff of melodrama with snarled asides and extravagant gesture. John Perrett was the murderer, William Corder, smooth, suave and sinister, with scarlet-lined cloak and dashingly mustachioed. The unhappy victim, the dear, devoted and credulous Maria Marten, was charmingly played by Maureen Payne. Her honest parents were given, perhaps, not quite enough demonstration by Peter Power and Maureen Hammond.
The comedy relief was in excellent hands. Ray Hopper’s Tim Bobbin was the simple rustic to the life, but never forgetting to play to the audience, His ‘intended’ Anne was Fay Sturt who most ably abetted him in song and dance. Pharos Lea, former gypsy of the tribe of Nell Hatfield, now turned officer of the law, was played by Ross Workman. Susanna Porter was effective as the gypsy, Rosa post, and D Burnside was another gypsy of the tribe, Petra Andrews. Other parts were played by F. Cowling, I. Pilcher, M. Perrett, F. Thorne, P. Carpenter, and T. Mase. Production was by Betty Elliott with stage management by Ian Elliott.