Plays by Mary Webb

Gone to Earth  

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Helen Edmundson's stage adaptation of Mary Webb's 1917 novel Gone to Earth was first performed by Shared Experience Theatre Company at the Gardner Arts Centre, Brighton on 25 March 2004 and subsequently at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre, Guildford; Nuffield Theatre, Southampton; Cambridge Arts Theatre; Thoresby Riding Stables; Bristol Old Vic; Lyric Theatre, Hammersmith, and Oxford Playhouse.

The play tells the story of Hazel, an innocent and free-spirited seventeen-year-old child of nature living in rural Shropshire. But when both the local squire Jack Reddin and the altruistic minister Edward Marston fall in love with her, she is drawn into a world of earthly passions which threatens to destroy her – as simply and relentlessly as a Greek tragedy.

In an Introduction to the published script, Helen Edmundson writes: 'I love the mythical feel of this story... I have tried to capture some of this quality in the play (the songs and the dancing are vital in this respect). I have taken great liberties with the narrative, changing the way the story is told, but the ideas behind it all remain Mary Webb’s and are, I feel, as relevant and challenging as they were when she first put pen to paper.'

The Shared Experience production was directed by Nancy Meckler and designed by Niki Turner. It was performed by Natalia Tena (as Hazel), Roderick Smith, Jay Villiers (as Reddin), Michelle Butterly, Simon Wilson (as Edward), Amelda Brown, James Staddon, Paul Parris and Fiona Clifton-Welker.