Reviews & Audience Feedback

Death and the Maiden

Carla Phillips, Eastern Daily Press 


Murderous Saudi Sultans, Isis brides, Guantanamo prisoners, hostages, exIRA militia - all figures in today's news bulletins, perpetrators and victims of torture - and worse- all on our daily radar - how can we think about, let alone deal with, the daily actions and reactions when these are 'over' and the dust has settled?

What is the truthful meaning of 'reconciliation' when peace is a necessity? These topics are dealt with in the stunning Death and the Maiden by Ariel Dorfman, a popular success as a play as well as a film.

One of our best touring small companies, the production was as good as it gets. Set in a beachside house in a South American country just emerging from totalitarian rule, three people face the reality of reconciling the rifts between the victors and those on the side of the former military regime.

Paulina, played by the admirable Claire Bibby, is the deeply traumatised past victim of torture. Her husband (Andrew Fettes) is heading an investigation of past abuses. By chance, their paths cross with Dr Miranda (Keith Hill), whom Paulina recognizes as her former torturer.

As phrased in the director, Sarah Gain's, preface, the theme is the desire for justice versus the need for peace.

Today, in a time and place were our own society seems increasingly polarized, fragmented and threatened by terrible forces, the play seems acutely relevant.

Beautifully written, well staged and performed by this gifted small company, who never forget to entertain rather than preach, it is not to be missed.


Chris Sadler, Fakenham Times…/review-death-and-the-maid…


Artistic Director Adam Morley treated the audience to a rigorous display of trust, doubt, and the corrosiveness of revenge. A brutal past event and its echoing persistence was dissected with intensity and style by director Sarah Gain; and the impressive cast of Andrew Fettes (Gerardo Escobar), Keith Hill (Roberto Miranda) and Claire Bibby (Paulina Salas) all convinced in their respective parts. The naturalness and rhythm of dialogue particularly impressive.

A relaxed beach house set, featuring a verdant veranda, was complimented with a soothing ocean soundtrack which built in intensity to match the on-stage tension, becoming almost oppressive at times.

The audience in the beautifully refurbished Wells Maltings enjoyed the play enormously, responding with enthusiasm at the curtain call; and were left with much to ponder over the coming days. 

Edith in the Dark

Michael Gray, remotegoat

A spooky story always sits well at Christmas, and Philip Meeks’ ingenious piece, originally commissioned for Harrogate, offers us plenty, mostly from the pen of E Nesbit, of Railway Children fame.

The action begins in the author’s attic writing room, with a black brass-bound trunk and a classical “pavilion” hinting at horrors to come.

The stories, from early in Nesbit’s oeuvre – Grim Tales was published in 1893 - are acted out with gusto by three actors, happily swapping accents and gender. In the framing narrative, Nesbit herself, “a very modern woman” not above seeking “sauce for the goose”, is compellingly played by Claire Bibby, who also produces. Grace Dunne is the splendidly named Biddy Thricefold, servant and companion to the writer, mother to the children Nesbit raises as her own, mistress to her erring husband.

No wonder, perhaps, that the stories take a dark view of love and marriage, the wedding often thwarted or delayed by death. And yet, since they were penned before her own unhappiness with Hubert Bland, they are, as she says after we have seen Uncle Abraham’s Romance, “a premonition”.

The third presence is the pale, mysterious Mr Guasto [Nesbit - or maybe Meeks - seems to think that his name has deadly connotations], played by Jeremy Small. He’s a fervent admirer of our author’s tales - “a huge fan” as he anachronistically puts it.

The most successful story dramatically is The Pavilion, a later work, in which Small plays Emilia, Bibby her friend Ernestine, and Dunne a terrific double as Colonel Braggart and the aged Oswald Frit.

There’s a clever nod to a gorier end to the children from Three Chimneys, sent up in tableaux at the top of part two. And Edith recalls grisly horrors in Bordeaux.

But it is the final moments which chill us most, in which Guasto’s true nature is revealed, and the fainting girl in the next room falls victim to a family curse.

The Bridewell is the last date in Norwich-based Baroque’s tour. Adam Morley’s production makes good use of the limited space, achieving an entertaining balance between the fun and the frights.


Veronica's Room

Carla Phillips, Eastern Daily Press

“First of all - a general endorsement. Anything presented by ‘Baroque Theatre Company’ is worth seeing. Professional: well directed, designed, lit and acted, with a variety of scripts and cast, this is one company not to be missed.

‘Veronica’s Room’ at Wells Granary Theatre on Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings, is a thriller written by Ira Levin. He wrote other popular spine-tinglers: ’ A Kiss Before Dying’; ‘The Boys From Brazil’; ‘The Stepford Wives’, and ‘Rosemary’s Baby’.

In this play a young couple in Boston (Mass) are lured to a slightly creepy house by a friendly elderly Irish couple they sit next to in a restaurant. The couple were struck by the resemblance of the girl to the young lady who used to live where they now work. Could this resemblance be used to ease the painful memories of this woman’s sister who now lays dying? Preposterous indeed, and the play unfolds with nothing – not a single thing- turning out predictably. A tissue of lies, threats and mayhem.

Given the author, this unpredictability is all all explicable, however complicated, and makes for an entertaining evening. 

The producer and company owner of ‘Baroque’, Claire Bibby, is one of the four principal actors. I feel like saying ‘Need I say more!’ as her skills are so remarkable that she alone would guarantee the quality of this production. Joined by Russell J. Turner, like Claire, a veteran of the late, much lamented ‘Black Ram’ company, as well as Natasha Walsh and David Blood, the rest of the cast, this is one evening of proficient acting. 

This production will appear in various parts of our region in the early autumn. They are knockout and I’m looking forward to their next production”.


Kindly Leave the Stage

Michael Darton,


Baroque Theatre presents a comedy written by John Chapman called ‘Kindly Leave the Stage’ – produced by Claire Bibby and directed by Adam Morley.

The show is a celebration of fun, mayhem and thespian mischief – as Adam Morley the Director says ‘it has no pretention to be anything more than the sum of its parts and that is very refreshing’.

The show is of a similar format to ‘Noises off’ which is a play within a play, the ensemble go head to head as they play the characters in the play and the actors who are in the play… sound confusing, well it’s not – It’s a farce which is easy to watch and a lot of fun! You’ll see jealousy, revelations and the precious actor’s egos revealed. Some crisp writing and fun ‘double entrendres’ from John Chapman.

A lively cast of 8 keep the pace going – great performances from Jill Davy who plays Nurse Brown and also David Shackleton who plays Edward”. 

Carla Phillips, Eastern Daily Press 

“Audience delighted by visit to 'Noel Coward Country' In Kindly Leave the Stage, by John Chapman, we start with two couples on stage, one pair in the middle of a juicy row. We're in Noel Coward Country (or at least some approximation). However, the actor's lines seem to alter. Their barbs become more nasty, their speech less 'received pronunciation'. The conventional 'well-made play' transforms into something different. In this play within a play, jealousies, flirtations and entanglements descend from a drawing-room comedy into chaos as this farce spins completely out of control. Baroque Theatre Company are agile, adept and professional. Their entertainment attracted a full house at Wells Granary Theatre on Saturday and a substantial audience on a cold and rainy Sunday night. Acting in splendidly fruity style, it would be churlish not to praise this perfect company, even though I particularly relished a star turn by David Shackleton as a drunken, hammy actor breaking into King Lear on the moor in the midst of all the mayhem.This delicious deconstruction of traditional farce, directed by Adam Morley, pleased all the audience. Long live Baroque, now starting a tour of our area”. 

Anne Morley-Priestman,

WOS Rating: **** 

Julie Phillips and Friends (Audience Members) 

“This evening the 4th April I and three friends went to see 'Kindly Leave the Stage' at our local theatre 'The Lights' Andover. We wanted to convey to the cast and crew what a brilliant play it was. Fantastic timing, so so funny, and superbly performed. We all had, as did the entire audience an excellent evening filled with laughter.

Please pass on our congratulations for making a cold April evening, much warmer. We shall watch for your company at 'The Lights' in the future”.


Up Pompeii

Carla Phillips, Eastern Daily Press

“Ludicrous! Ludicrous! Ludicrous is really ludicrous! Yes, we’re in the world of ‘Up Pompeii’, in the Roman, pre-volcanic household of Ludicrus Sextus. Grand Commentator, head slave Lurcio (the part Frankie Howerd once played) is running rings around the rest of the household.

As they all engage in romantic, sexual mischief within and without the Sextus family , they were merrily portrayed by the Baroque Theatre Company on Friday and Saturday evenings at Wells Granary Theatre. It’s part of a countrywide tour – so I am giving you advance notice. Book now!

Written by Miles Tredinnick, based on Talbot Rothwell and Sid Colin’s scripts from the BBC comedies, complicated liaisons are deftly re-enacted by the charming Baroque troupe. 

Produced by Claire Bibby (one of the principal actresses) and directed by Adam Morley, the cast's professionalism and charisma shines forth. The pace is swift and there are even some impromptu and improvisational gags. Sexiness, silliness and farce are wonderful, winning requisites for a good night out”.


The Haunting of Hill House

Elizabeth Newman and Richard Schwoerke (Audience Members)

 “We came to see your performance on Saturday 23rd and would like to say how much we enjoyed the "The Haunting of Hill House" the acting was superb, very professional and very entertaining.  We will certainly come to future shows. Once again thank you for a very special evening”. 

John Huggins (Audience Member)  

“I'm so glad I didn't miss your wonderful performance. A great evening of laughs and entertainment, we would not had a better show in London. Thank you all”.


Great Expectations

C.Smith, Eastern Daily Press

“Baroque Theatre Company distils Charles Dickens’ story and presents its essence in unforgettable personalities....”

“....a daring but successful piece of production....”

“Adam Morley’s direction is vivid and fast moving....”

 I.Lockett, Clonter Opera Theatre

“Great Expectations were certainly met with the Baroque Theatre Company’s triumphant first visit to Clonter. People travelled far and wide on the pilgrimage to Dickens.” 

“….it knocked the socks of the television adaptation!”

“….a very clever sensitive stage adaptation by Hugh Leonard”

“Dickens’ lovers book yourselves a date with Baroque Theatre Company this very day.” 

Claire Crisp – North West Evening Mail 

“ excellent evening’s entertainment”.

“I was intrigued to see how director Adam Morley would stage this complex tale and it was cleverly done...”

“Bringing this classic story to life is no mean feat and I take my hat off to Baroque for doing so in this eminently enjoyable touring adaptation, which stayed true to the spirit of the original while adding some nice touches of its own”. 

J. Charles (audience member)

“....the quality of the acting across the board was to a very high standard indeed and all actors produced splendid and engaging performances that kept the audience spellbound....”

“....a thoroughly entertaining evening, enjoyed by an appreciative audience.”

“I fully recommend that you catch this enjoyable and highly watchable play.” 

“Baroque Theatre Company is to be congratulated on its endeavour and I look forward to future productions of this fresh, daring and highly talented company.”

 P. Bannister (from The Granary Theatre, Wells-next-the-Sea)

“ much we enjoyed 'Great Expectations'

The feedback I have had from locals has been excellent. 'The best show at the Granary ever' was one of the comments I had......”

A. Wright (audience member)

“A wonderful evening of superb acting which gave a feast of energy, quality and creativity. As a member of the audience the beautifully casted programme and detail allowed total immersion in to the story..bravo!  

An absolute delight to watch! We hope this is shared with the actors and very much look forward to seeing your company again soon, thank you.”

2023  Baroque Theatre Company