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Edith In The Beginning

The Fascinating Story of Mrs Pretty

Nov 20th to 27th 2020
Karen Forbes

Review comments about this production

"an extraordinarily inventive production...Lucy Hayton takes on the role with an authority that you might expect from an old girl of Roedean School... Some good humour, too, comes out in her relationship with the rustic Keith Railton as the two main’s to a welcome return to some Criterion stalwarts who’ll be treading the boards again one of these days" Chris Arnot 

"An ingenious combination of pre-recorded scenes, state-of-the-art technology and precisely calibrated acting makes the re-creation of this drama onto our small screens almost as extraordinary as the discovery of the skeleton of King Redwaeld at Sutton Hoo back in the 1930s." Barbara Goulden, Elementarywhatson.

"...lockdown has forced many changes upon us...and here the techies at the Criterion shine. Using split screen technology and a series of picturesque backdrops filmed on domestic equipment and presented on a YouTube platform they evoke a dialogue between the two main characters that allows their relationship to develop... An enjoyable and moving account of a hugely important moment in the history of Britain... and the eternal drama of friendship that underpinned it." Nick Le Mesurier, Leamington Courier

Read the full reviews here.

Audience reflections

"I really enjoyed this production.  The limitations of lockdown preparation and presentation were turned into positive advantages."
"I shall no longer see the Sutton Hoo treasure as a set of artefacts and want to find out more about Edith."
"In a Covid-19 world, live theatre will have an even more precarious future. What you have done with this production shows a way forward". 

About the play

‘Edith in the Beginning’ was originally commissioned by Stuff of Dreams theatre company for the National Trust and researched and written by Karen Forbes.

The play explores the life of Edith Pretty, the woman responsible for the discovery of the Sutton Hoo Anglo-Saxon treasure, which many consider to be one of the greatest archaeological finds in British history. However, there is so much more to the story of this remarkable woman. Karen Forbes’ play shines a light on Edith’s heroic wartime endeavours, her marriage to Frank Pretty, and her fond alliance with Ipswich Museum archaeologist, Basil Brown. Most intriguing is her decision to decline a CBE - the reason for which remains a mystery to this day.

The production was originally staged outdoors at the National Trust Sutton Hoo site in August 2019 on the porch of Tranmer House, Edith Pretty’s former home. The play was subsequently performed in November 2019 in partnership with Ipswich Museum and Eastern Angles at the Sir John Mills Theatre, Ipswich.

In May 2020, Karen,  who is a longstanding Criterion Company Member, offered the play as one of our lockdown virtual play readings. Following the very successful reading, Karen generously offered us the play rights-free in order to allow us to experiment with the online form. Over June, July and August, with Anne-marie Greene as Director working with Karen as an integral part of the creative team, we have rehearsed and live-recorded the play from our home spaces using Zoom. Since then, Steve Brown has been working tirelessly to edit the scenes into a film. 

On purchasing a ticket, you will receive a dedicated weblink. The play can be accessed at any time and for as many times as you like, from 00:00 on Friday 20th November until 23:59 on Friday 27th November.

Coming Soon

Charles Dickens
Main House
December 18th

Just Finished

Curated by Mark Gatiss
Main House
Sep 29th to Oct 4th
David Haig
August 28th
Abi Morgan
Main House
Mar 14th to 21st
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