POVERTY, hardship, brutality and murder – it all sounds like a gruesome evening ahead yet Angel Exit Theatre have created a dark comedy that is full of pleasurable moments, music and visual fun that transcends the real-life story.

It begins with a public execution, described as ‘a spot of family fun’ in which the whole town noisily joins to witness the humiliation of Martha Brown, Dorset’s last woman to undergo a public hanging.

But Martha is presented here not as an evil monster but as a victim who killed her abusive and adulterous husband in self defence.

A cast of five actors, augmented by young members of the Dorchester Youth Theatre Group, enrich the lively plot with songs, stunning physical movements and comic characters ranging from mad cows to ghostly spirits who keep the story – and the scenery – moving throughout the evening.

Lynne Forbes not only takes on the leading role of Martha but is also co-writer and director of the play along with Tamsin Fessey who portrays numerous roles with lightning speed.

Morag Cross, Simon Carroll Jones and William Wolfe Hogan complete a fine cast as they bring energy and wit to a powerful piece of theatre that transfixed the capacity audience with its imaginative set, innovative style and emotive storyline.

The touring production returns to Dorset in June, calling at Sturminster Newton, Poole, Swanage, Lyme Regis and Bridport on its journey – don’t miss it.