Review: Edith – In the Beginning

The discovery of the treasures at Sutton Hoo are arguably the greatest British archaeological find.

This new play written by Karen Forbes follows the story of Edith Pretty a wealthy widow who had made her home, with her husband and later her son, at Sutton Hoo. Edith’s husband sadly died of cancer, leaving her to bring up her son alone.

The house overlooks some mysterious looking earth mounds and Edith is always intrigued as to if these could be ancient burial grounds. But how will she find out? A very private lady, she doesn’t want hundreds of archeologists charging around her estate, enter Basil Brown.

Basil worked at Ipswich Museum, a self taught man, he was recommended to Mrs Pretty and soon the pair are working together to discover the secret that has laid hidden for hundreds of years.

All of the above is well known, but this play explores the people involved in the discovery. Karen Forbes has researched into the lives of Mrs Pretty and Basil to make this a more personal story.

Stuff Of Dreams, the production company, are a small East Anglian based group who specialise in these kind of plays and perform at sometimes “different” locations. The location for Edith – In the Beginning is the porch way of Mrs Pretty’s home at Sutton Hoo. This makes the perfect setting as looking forwards the audience sees the beautiful house where Edith would have sat wondering about the mounds, while behind you can see the mounds in question.

It’s a small cast of four, Kiara Hawker is Mrs Pretty, Ivan Wilkinson is Basil Brown. Supporting are Joshua Gould as Edith’s husband Frank Pretty and Dawn Brindle as Queen Raedwald.

Some poetic licence has to be used as we do not know totally of the relationship between the characters, but this is a very well researched piece and the two leading characters do bring the story to life, right where it all happened. Sutton Hoo itself is as much a star of this production as the cast.

Absolutely loved the story, but also very touching is the scene that the audience see of the cast as we depart.

This was only a short run but hopefully one that can be repeated as this production is worthy of a much wider audience.

Review: Mark Keable, Ipswich24 Magazine
Photos: Al Pulford

Stuff of Dreams website: