A BITTERSWEET tale of an unusual romance will form a fitting finale for Dorchester Literary Festival.

It will be staged at a new performing venue in Dorchester - The Pointe, on Durngate Street.

Curtis Butterworth Loves Molly May is based upon a well loved character from a short story by Dorset author Natasha Solomons.

It will receive its world premiere on Saturday, October 26 at 7pm and Sunday, October 27 at 2pm and 7pm.

The play is quintessentially Dorset - it was written by best-selling Dorset author Natasha Solomons, adapted by highly-regarded Dorset actor-directors Tim Laycock and Emma Hill, and performed by their new Dorchester-based theatrical company, Woolly Pig Productions.

Award-winning Dorset novelist Natasha Solomons can lay some claim to following in Thomas Hardy’s footsteps. Like Hardy, her first novel Mr Rosenblum’s List is set in a fictionalised version of Dorset: the village of Pursebury Ash is based on Ibberton in North Dorset; and, as with Hardy, the novel has some wonderful Dorset characters in it.

One key character was particularly hard for Natasha to put aside once she’d finished writing the novel: an ancient Dorset man called Curtis Butterworth, best friend of the novel’s hero Mr Rosenblum and something of a scene-stealer.

Natasha said: “I wrote Curtis Butterworth Loves Molly May because I wasn’t quite ready to say goodbye to the characters in Mr R. We’d spent a long time together and, whilst it was time to move on to book two, I needed one last adventure under Bulbarrow Hill.”

In the play, Curtis Butterworth (age unknown) falls in love with Molly May. His efforts to woo Molly, aided by a peddlar, a Woolly Pig, and a turquoise ring, are retold by a cast of eight actors and some very special cider.

Emma Hill said: “Curtis Butterworth Loves Molly May is a bittersweet tale of a very unusual romance, full of humour, local folklore and acute observation.

Tim Laycock added: “Growing up in North Dorset, I knew men just like Curtis who seemed somehow to belong to an older time, a way of life that was fast disappearing and yet they managed to survive, living on their wits and a deep local knowledge. The whole story is unexpected, evocative, and very Dorset.”

The name for Emma and Tim’s new theatre company, Woolly Pig Productions, was also inspired by Curtis Butterworth. It comes from a mythical Dorset beast that Curtis claims to have seen: the Woolly Pig, described as having “the snout of a pig, the tusks of a great wild boar and the fleece of a ram, and can only be killed with an arrow of pure gold.” Tim and Emma have collaborated on a range of theatrical projects over the past decade and bring their considerable experience and enthusiasm to this new venture.

Emma added: “This is Woolly Pig Productions’ first show, but we plan to bring many more creative and innovative theatre projects to the stage in the future. Curtis Butterworth Loves Molly May is being staged at a fantastic new venue, The Pointe, on Durngate Street in Dorchester. “We’re really excited to be part of the Dorchester Literary Festival and showcasing this new performance space. And it’s going to be extra-special as we’ll have Natasha talking to the audience after each performance about her writing and Dorset connections.”

*Curtis Butterworth Loves Molly May, The Pointe, Durngate Street, Dorchester, Saturday, October 26 at 7pm and Sunday, October 27 at 2pm and 7pm. Each performance will be followed by a Q&A with Natasha Solomons Running time: Approx 1 ½ hrs Tickets: £10 Booking: Dorchester Literary Festival https://www.dorchesterliteraryfestival.com or Dorchester Tourist Information Centre, Dorset County Library, Dorchester