True Crime Retelling "The Ballad of Maria Marten" At Theatre By The Lake

A thrilling retelling of a real-life murder mystery, critically-acclaimed production The Ballad of Maria Marten comes to Keswick next week. Produced by Eastern Angles and Matthew Linley Creative Projects, Beth Flintoff’s captivating drama turns history into her-story through the exploration of love, loss, trauma and power.

It is summer 1827 and in a red barn Maria Marten awaits her lover. One year later, her body is found underneath the flooring in a grain sack, and the manhunt begins. The story exploded at the time, becoming sensationalised by the press, and the songs and stories written about it made the story go down in English folklore. It’s continued to fuel the public’s morbid fascination for gruesome stories ever since with books, films and TV programmes made about it.

But beneath the crime drama, the young woman’s story has been overlooked, forgotten… until now. It’s time to lift the curtain on Maria and unveil the person she was and the life she lived. In this affirming production the ensemble cast swell the stage with life and song and joy to tell the real story of this working class lass, the tight-knit rural community she lived in and the incredible friendships that surrounded her. 

Beth Flintoff comments, "It’s never been more important for us to consider and celebrate the lives of those that society does not manage to protect. This is an old story, about the infamous murder of a woman, but now the story is told from her point of view. I wanted to focus on who Maria was: who she loved, what she laughed about, and what she did when she's having fun. Power and joy can be found in female camaraderie. I didn’t want her to be a victim anymore, so there is no violence onstage."

Director Hal Chambers, who has just finished two years directing with the RSC, adds, "At the beginning of The Ballad of Maria Marten writer Beth Flintoff's stage direction tells us that Maria's best friends ‘unmurder’ her and that is exactly what we are trying to do with this production. Nearly 200 years on, we hope to let Maria and her friends finally have a voice - and what emerges is a play for our times."

The Ballad of Maria Marten stars a dazzling all-female ensemble that bring the story to life through vivid movement, searing music and a swirl of passion.


"Unexpectedly joyous" ★★★★ The Guardian

“Extraordinary, brilliant and powerful”★★★★★ Charles Hutch Press

"A poignantly contemporary reading of an old murder folk tale"★★★★ Morning Star


Eastern Angles and Matthew Linley Creative Projects in association with the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough

The Ballad of Maria Marten

by Beth Flintoff

Tue 29 Mar – Sat 2 Apr | 7.30pm; with 2pm matinee on Wed & Fri

Tickets: £32 - £10

Box Office: 017687 74411 | theatrebythelake.com

Age Guidance: 12+

Cast (c) Mike Kwasniak
Ballad of Maria Marten Cast (c) Mike Kwasniak