Maria Marten at the Palace Court with AUB

THE first public performances by Arts University Bournemouth students at their “new” base, the Palace Court Theatre in Westover Road, will be of Beth Flintoff’s thrilling new retelling of the real life Suffolk murder story of Maria Marten, better known as Murder in the Red Barn.

The Ballad of Maria Marten, with its all female cast, will be on stage at the Palace Court from 14th to 16th March, 7.30 nightly with a 2.30 Saturday matinee. It starts in Polstead in the summer of 1827, where Maria is awaiting the arrival of her lover. A year later her body is found under the floor of the barn in a grain sack, barely identifiable. The manhunt begins.

Maria’s story sent shock waves throughout the country. The Red Barn Murder (as it became known) was national news, inspiring writers and filmmakers down the ages. The sort of gruesome tale that had all the hallmarks of a classic crime drama – a missing body, a country location, a disreputable squire and a village stuck in its age-old traditions.

But in all this hysteria Maria’s own story was lost – until now. This new play re-examines the life of Maria Marten and the events that led up to her murder.

As part of her research, Beth Flintoff worked with Lighthouse, a charity supporting women who have experienced domestic abuse, and a group of survivors. Focusing on Maria’s life rather than her death, Flintoff restores dignity to the woman who became the focus of public gossip after her murder.

Students from four departments, acting, performance design and film costume, costume and make up for media and performance, will collaborate in this production.

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