THERE’S something strange and mysterious about Bulbarrow in Dorset, and it inspired writer Natasha Solomons in several of her successful novels, the first of which was Mr Rosenblum’s List.
One of its characters, Curtis Butterworth, particularly endeared himself to her, so his own history became the subject for a short story, which has now been adapted for the stage by Tim Laycock and Emma Hill.
A one-act version, with songs, was performed by the newly-formed Woolly Pig Productions as part of the town’s literary festival, packing The Pointe in Dorchester.
The Molly May of the title was a Dorset girl with a dream – and enough determination to make it come true. Spurning the attentions of the young men of the village of Pursebury Ash (based on Ibberton) she agreed to be courted by the fey and charismatic Curtis, a man many years older who had the power to make her laugh. She promised to marry him if he could give her a special ring, and he tried for five years. But neither his love nor his perseverance could hold her.
Neatly introduced via a Hollywood interview in which the now-starry Molly reminisces about life in Dorset, the story unfolds in song, legend and very recognisable country events. It is charming and mesmerising.
With singer and storyteller Tim Laycock as Curtis and Toni Mitchell as young Molly, Emma Hill as the wily pedlar and support from several well known Dorchester performers, the play captured the essence of the rural county.
The intention now is that Woolly Pig will further develop the story, and tour the county in 2020, introducing many old legends and tunes to new audiences.