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Criterion Theatre
The Welkin (2023)
Written by Lucy Kirkwood
Sat 21st October to Sat 28th October
Director – Nicol Cortese
Sally Poppy – Alice Scott
Elizabeth Luke – Anne-marie Greene
Fred Poppy – Adam Lee
Mr Coombes – Peter Gillam
Sarah Smith – Emma Padfield
Charlotte Cary – Cathryn Bowler
Mary Middleton – Georgia Kelly
Judith Brewer – Helen McGowan
Emma Jenkins – JoJo Norris
Kitty Givens – Hadeesa Ramjee
Hannah Rusted – Ellie Spirrett
Peg Carter – Talya Rajagukguk
Helen Ludlow – Charlie Lewis
Ann Lavender – Emma Whewell
Sarah Hollis – Dawn Morris
Katy Luke/Lady Wax/Alice Wax – Morgan Blundell-Smith
The Voice of the Justice – Keith Railton
Stage Manager – Alan Fenn

Rural Suffolk, 1759. As the country waits for Halley's Comet, Sally Poppy is sentenced to hang for a heinous murder. When she claims to be pregnant, a jury of twelve matrons are taken from their housework to decide whether she's telling the truth, or simply trying to escape the noose.

With only midwife Lizzy Luke prepared to defend the girl, and a mob baying for blood outside, the matrons wrestle with their new authority, and the devil in their midst.

Lucy Kirkwood's play The Welkin premiered at the National Theatre, London, in January 2020, directed by James Macdonald and featuring Maxine Peake and Ria Zmitrowicz.

Reviews of the play

"brilliant, brave, bold and intelligent... It is, for all the seriousness of its subject, often very funny, yet at the close, profoundly moving." Sarah Crompton, Whatsonstage

"Lucy Kirkwood’s huge new drama pulls 18th century lives thrillingly into present-day focus." David Benedict, Variety

Casting Information (large cast 15 women, 2 men)

The Accused, Sally Poppy (woman, 20s)

The Jury of Matrons (12 women, range of ages 20s to 80s and reflecting diverse ethnicities and backgrounds)

Mr Coobes, the Bailiff 

Frederick Poppy, the husband/Mr Willis, the doctor

Katie Luke, the midwife's daughter/Alice Wax, the victim

Lady Wax

EDI Assessment

This play has a central diversity story at its heart, concerned with the stifling control of the patriarchy through paralleling the experiences of women in past and present society. The playwright asks for diversity in ethnicity, identity and background in the instruction that the casting “reflects the present day population of the place the play is being performed in, not East Anglia in the 1750s".


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