Please note that this play covers themes which some viewers may find disturbing and therefore, this review also considers issues such as abuse, domestic abuse and murder. We would always suggest researching the play before attendance to ensure you feel comfortable and safe.
The Ballad of Maria Marten is a terrific play written by Beth Flintoff and directed by Hal Chambers. I started going to the theatre at the beginning of my third year of University and it was one of the best choices I have made during my years at Exeter. I bought a few tickets at the beginning of the year, inspired by the beautiful descriptions and The Ballad of Maria Marten is one that stuck with me.
The play was inspired by a true story that shocked England. Known as The Red Barn Murder, in 1827 Maria Marten was shot dead by her lover in Polstead, Suffolk. The play is faithful to the story, narrating it Maria’s point of view and showing how a cruel man manipulated her into thinking she was the culprit for the murder of her children and could not be trusted.
The perspective of the narration is incredible, as the story begins with Maria speaking as a corpse, narrating how she ended up dead in the barn. The play uses a feminist lens when Maria’s story ends as it focuses on the people who are left behind: her stepmother and former friends. When they find her body, they decide to burn the red barn, as a way of standing together against the cruelty of men. The scene was powerful, as special effect lights and smoke made the fire look very realistic.
Needless to say, the play was a masterpiece and despite the tragic storyline, left me filled with joy as I knew that I had witnessed an incredible piece of art.
– Lisa Greghi
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