Saturday, 25 June 2022

Anne Giles: RIP

The following announcement was posted to Facebook on 23 June 2022. Since then, we have received so many lovely tributes to Anne - by email and by comments to the original posting - that we felt it appropriate to share some of them here. The comments below are just a small selection of the love and happy memories that have been shared.

We are very sad to announce the passing of one of our longest-standing, most active and loyal members. Anne was well known across the Norwich theatre family, with her roots at the Barn, for acting, directing, stage managing, costume management, props management, front of house, committee service and much more, across the last four decades. Her last stage management role was for 'Three Russian Encounters' in November/December 2021, and her last stage performance was as Cora in 'Waiting in the Wings' in July 2019. She will leave the most enormous gap in our lives.

We were notified by her friend Ian, who assisted and cared for her in the last months of her life, as follows:

"Anne Giles passed away peacefully at Priscilla Bacon Lodge in the early hours of the 19th June, 2022. Her funeral will take place at Earlham Crematorium, Norwich on Friday 1st July, 2022 at 4.15 pm.

Anne asked for bright colours to be worn. No flowers please. A memorial is planned for a later date, yet to be confirmed.

Donations for Priscilla Bacon Lodge. A range of options including online, cheque, Gift Aid and text may be found at their site:"

The memorial will be held, as Anne requested, at the Sewell Barn Theatre, and arrangements for this will be published at a later date.

In loving memory of a loyal, energetic, dedicated and wholly remarkable woman.


"Absolutely heartbreaking news. It was an absolute privilege to work alongside her in many productions on stage & off. I can't believe it. She once told me I was a nightmare to find costumes for because I was "shaped like a barrel". I often remember that conversation fondly. I adored her dry wit, it always made any show with her such a joy." Colin

"Anne wasn't just a theatrical colleague but also a very dear friend for something like 40 years. Anne was the one that persuaded me to step into stage management and we worked together many, many times as SM or ASM. I will miss sharing a glass or 3 of red whilst discussing forthcoming projects. I will miss the phone calls... The ones that started with "Hi Ady, it's Anne. just phoned for a quick chat" - an hour later we would hang up after sorting absolutely nothing. Most of all I will miss a very dear friend. RIP Anne xx" Adrian

"Anne was a Cast roleplayer right from the beginning when Cast was first set up in 2011 and she only stopped roleplaying towards the end of 2020.  She delivered 50+ roleplay sessions for us during that time with always excellent feedback from people who worked with her. That's quite a record, and we hope she gained great satisfaction from knowing that she helped hundreds of medical students (and others) to prepare themselves for the world of 'real patients' and a whole host of challenging situations they face out there." Vera

"I’m so very sad to read this. Anne took me under her wing in my first ever meeting at the Barn and made me so welcome. Then years later made [my daughter] so welcome too. Such a strong, indomitable, dedicated and very caring lady. I’m so lucky, proud and privileged to have known Anne. Love to everyone." Ruth

"Anne was fun, funny and terrifying. All at the same time!" James

"One of the best. I remember my first ever audition. I was almost in tears, thinking I had totally messed it all up... Anne was in the foyer and sat and gave me a pep talk and cheered me up. She was kind, supportive and funny. I find it difficult to imagine the Barn or the Puppet theatre without her there. She will be missed by so many." Marie

"A sad day. I think it is fair to say she was a legend. I'll miss her. Blessed be." David

"Oh. So, so sorry to hear this. I'll always remember Anne for her indomitable spirit, wicked sense of humour and 'can do' spirit. A real lady, a true professional and a gorgeous spirit." Matthew

"Oh my goodness, such a huge shock and great loss to Norwich. I recently had the pleasure of choosing Elizabethan costumes for a project and it was delightful to spend time with Anne chatting Elizabethan fashion and all the friends we share in common. RIP to a great lady." Sarah

"Bless you, Anne. It's people like her who makes the world go round, especially the theatre world." Gill

"A wonderful, helpful lady who had huge knowledge of historical costume and helped us out at Fakenham College/High in the 80's and 90's. She was full of enthusiasm and I will never forget her supportive comments and sense of humour." Jill

"In the short time I’ve been involved at the Barn, Anne’s warmth, energy and commitment have been evident absolutely everywhere: a huge loss to the community." Shelagh

"Formidable and terrifying and passionate, caring, funny, hardworking and committed... So, so sad to hear of her passing oh, but boyyo, she did give a good performance!" Angela

"Very sad to hear this. Anne and I had a great double act for school Victorian days at Gressenhall for several years. Such a character and we shared a lot of laughs together. RIP, Mrs Clackett." Rachel

"Oh my God. How awful. I adored Anne, she was always such a force of nature and took no prisoners. She’s the reason I volunteered there for as long as I did, she was phenomenal." Meg

"Extremely sorry to hear the news of Anne. She - like Terry [Dabbs] - was a true stalwart of the Barn Theatre whom I got to work with all too seldom. However, I regularly watched them both in performance and met them socially around the place when I was able to be regular there. Both were really talented and lovely people who will be much missed." Noel

"Anne was the heart and soul of the Tiebreak Theatre company office for decades and was instrumental in setting up our touring circuit around schools and art centres. She was known for her cheerful, fun approach by actors, stage crew, funding bodies - and myself. RIP Anne." David

Saturday, 4 June 2022


Midsummer. The village must choose a new Daughter to sail with the fishing boats and bless the waters, keeping them safe from the roaming orcas for another year. Fan hopes with all her heart to be the one they choose. But her older sister Maggie says she must never, never, go with the boats. Because something happened to Maggie out there. And no one will admit it. 

Photography: Sean Owen of Reflective Arts

"My first visit to the Sewell Barn Theatre tonight was excellent. Thank you to the whole cast for a really well-paced, thoughtful, emotional and powerful performance. It was a delight to be in a new theatre, watching excellent performances in a play I had never seen. Thank you. I look forward to more. All the best, for your upcoming performances." Marston

"I saw an excellent performance last night of this sensitive, at times very dark, play by Matt Grinder, directed by Sabrina Poole. It has it all - a stellar cast, superb set design, hauntingly beautiful original score, intelligent and intuitive direction. Well done and congratulations for this truly admirable team effort." Karen

"This was stunning and beautifully done. As a professional who specialises in with this subject matter, it was sensitively and accurately portrayed and was respectful to all of those who have gone through similar events. Well done to the cast, crew and Sabrina for putting on such an emotive show." Michelle

"...haunting, chilling, classic story with some great performances and imaginative set and sound once again." Shelagh

"It was brilliant from start to finish. One of the best plays I have seen." Kayte

"Saw a lovely production of Orca at the Sewell Barn last night ... well perhaps not lovely... riveting. Uncomfortable narrative but splendidly acted and intelligently directed by Sabrina Poole. Audibility was a bit of a problem for me but  I am a deaf old git as everyone at the theatre is aware. Well done everyone." David

"Quality play with some ingenious staging. A little disturbing, but that's the way I like my drama..." Marie

"Deeply unsettling. Brilliant casting. Superb performances." Doug

"Absolutely loved it. Should be on a bigger stage. Actors were phenomenal." Gabrielle

"Sabrina Poole’s direction and Myles Crowder’s clever inverting set keep things simple but captivating, with 90 minutes of increasingly uncomfortable foreboding." James Goffin at Cultivated - click here for full review

"Just seen another brilliant Sabrina Poole production with her trademark ingenious set designs and innovation.  The cast and crew did so well with this emotionally charged piece of theatre, especially Sarah Jenkins who lead the narrative with true emotion.  Another highlight was the music, most of which were original compositions ... get yourselves along to see 'Orca' at Sewell Barn." Laura

"I went to see the above tonight and wanted to say how much I enjoyed the performance. It was powerful stuff, well written and brilliantly performed. Wonderful set and fabulous cast." Ayshea

"Brilliant - emotional. Very well done. Don't miss this one." Vicky

"Congratulations to Sabrina Poole and all her team at the Sewell Barn Theatre for another enthralling evening’s theatre! Orca isn’t an easy play for subject but the direction and the performances are masterly, particularly from Sarah Jenkins, with a heartbreaking range of emotions, and Emma Smith as the two sisters. Wonderful chance to think through the difficult issues raised. Which are? Well you’ll just have to come and see it, won’t you!" Selwyn Tillett [Secretary, Sewell Barn Management Committee]

"I thought the play was absolutely brilliant, so well acted and the set was amazing too.. Please pass on my congratulations to Sabrina and all the cast and crew." Ruth

"Sewell Barn Theatre theatre this evening for Sabrina Poole’s production of Orca. Beautifully directed and performed. A disturbing tale beautifully told. Well done all." Robin

Sunday, 24 April 2022

Edith - In the Beginning

In the summer of 1939 Britain was preparing for war but above the River Deben in sleepy Suffolk a different battle was taking place, one that revolved around a much earlier invader. When Mrs Edith Pretty invited local archaeologist Basil Brown to have a go at excavating the enormous mounds on her land, she was confident that he would find something. It was to be one of the most important finds in British archaeology.

The discovery of the Sutton Hoo treasure has recently received worldwide fame through the Netflix film, The Dig. This alternative interpretation was originally commissioned by the National Trust and performed at Sutton Hoo in 2019 to commemorate eighty years since the discovery of the burial ship and we are proud to be launching its amateur première.

Photography: Andrew Evans

“…this is at heart a sensitive and enjoyable depiction of a relationship that brought us one of the most momentous historic discoveries of the Twentieth Century. That is some achievement, and Director Robert Little and the Sewell Barn team can be proud of their accomplished production.” Julian Swainson, Norwich Eye [click here for full review]

"It was a really accomplished performance all round. The cast and crew deserve lots of praise for a really absorbing and interesting show. The Sewell Barn Theatre is a lovely, intimate setting and it’s ideal for this sort of show." Ray Tempesta - East Anglian Theatre Podcast

A fascinating show at the Barn tonight - the story of the discovery of the Sutton Hoo treasure. And we were also made aware of the impact of the First World War and the coming of the second. Using documentary form,  Karen Forbes' play explores the impact of the finding of the treasure on individuals' lives through the use of voiceover, flashbacks and naturalistic scenes. Lauren Baston gives backbone to the piece as Edith Pretty and conveys her role with strength and sensitivity. As Basil Brown, Andy Lofthouse is appropriately awkward and enthusiastic in equal measure. They are ably supported by the rest of the cast but in particular, Judi Daykin deserves special mention for her beautiful singing as Queen Raedwald - enough to send shivers down your spine! Sound, projections and lighting enhanced the story with impressive work from  Chad Mason whose voiceovers as Colonel Pretty and Churchill were moving and effective. Congratulations to all! Clare Williamson [Joint Artistic Director, Sewell Barn Theatre]

"If you're looking for a show today, I really do recommend this one! Such heartfelt performances from the cast, telling a fascinating local story." Joanna F

Saturday, 5 March 2022

The Father

 “I feel as if I’m losing all my leaves.”

Why do strangers turn up at André’s door? Why won’t his meddlesome daughter leave him alone? He’s perfectly capable, isn’t he?

The Father plunges us into an increasingly befuddling world, where André’s confusion collides with his powerful sense of self and his long-held convictions. As we become immersed in André’s reality, time shifts, doubts creep, and loyalties are questioned. The play confounds with brutal humour and sinister twists, keeping us in its raw, emotional grip as it explores, Lear-like, the power of love between parent and child.

Photography: Sean Owen

We have been delighted by audience responses (many of which involved a lot of Kleenex and stunned silences) to this powerful production. 

"All six cast members give exceptionally strong performances. John Dane is convincing as a once proud man struggling with a loss of identity and awareness while still trying to hang on to what always mattered to him. The other five cast members handle the transitions between characters so well that at first you doubt your own sanity – which is the point of this play. Go and see this play, and remember it next time you cast your vote, local or national. We are supposed to be a civilised society, but we regularly fail people with dementia and those who support them in their everyday struggle with a condition that only gets worse. It might seem odd, but even though this play covers a difficult subject it is an enjoyable performance superbly delivered." Julian Swainson, Norwich Eye [click here for full review]

"John Dane puts in a stellar performance as André, the titular father who is losing his grip on the world around him... This is not an easy watch, but a rewarding one." James Goffin [click here for full review]

"Such an excellent production from all aspects. Performance. Direction. Design. Sound. Excellent to see." Stash K

"Superb in every way! All round excellence from director and cast. I was riveted to my seat throughout the performance!" Robin S

"Oh my… just come out of a fantastic performance of ‘The Father’ - I’m in bits! In a good way. John Dane as André just amazing. Bravo.  If you’re in Norwich, see it!" Nicky B

"An excellent show - performance perfect." Jonathan R

"What a powerful production, I'm lost for words. Such moving performances by Jenny Belsey and John Dane... huge congratulations to all involved. Great to see Trevor Burton at The Sewell Barn again." Ruth H

"I saw the play on Friday evening and was particularly moved by John Dane's performance. It was a gripping piece of theatre." Leah S

"Six perfect performances, headed by the astonishing John Dane. An extraordinary and desperately moving script. First-class direction from Chris Bealey. A truly remarkable set. Haunting lighting and sound. Dark humour and intakes of breath. An audience stunned into total silence at the end, broken only by sniffs and nose-blowing. Please go see. And take the Kleenex." Cassie Tillett [Joint Artistic Director, Sewell Barn Theatre]

The show plays Thursday 3 to Saturday 5 March and then again from Wednesday 9 to Saturday 12 March, all at 7.30pm, plus a matinee at 2.30pm on 12 March.

Tickets are available from or 0333 666 3366. Numbers strictly limited to a maximum of 60 per performance for your comfort and safety. 

Saturday, 22 January 2022

Woman in Mind

Ayckbourn’s tragic-comic play is a dark, incisive examination of the plight of a trapped, unappreciated and unfulfilled woman. Susan has invested time and emotional energy in her marriage and family but self-sacrifice has not brought her happiness. Her husband is insensitive and indifferent, her sister-in-law interferes and she is estranged from her son. As a coping mechanism, she has created in her mind the perfect fantasy family who adore and cherish her. However, an eventual blurring of the worlds of fantasy and reality has devastating consequences for her.

Photography: Barry Parsons

Our production opened on Thursday 20 January, and we have been delighted with responses of audiences.

"It blew my mind!! Such stellar performances from everyone involved, especially the amazingly talented Mandy Kiley. Everything about this performance, including the sets, sound, lighting and costume were so professional! Well done everyone." Wendy A

"I would just like to say I went to the play last Thursday with three friends, and we all thought the production was fantastic. The acting was so good I was totally absorbed the whole time, I did laugh out loud but never lost sight of the disintegration of the lead character. Could you please pass on our appreciation to all those who took part." Margaret L

"Great performance, and thought provoking as well as thoroughly entertaining. Professional performances by all. My first visit too, already planning to come to the next show." Robin S

"Sometimes you need a little space to breathe after such powerful theatre… I even nearly left my bag which speaks for itself of how affected I had been! I had two friends with me : friend 1: ‘Susan’ was ‘astonishing’. friend 2 (tends to cast an artistically critical eye): reserved his judgement at the interval but by the final bow had been blown away by theatrical technicalities/acting precision/the sort of utterances a professionally trained actor makes that I can’t quote with any justice…but you get the flavour. A huge congratulations to cast and crew!" Charlotte C

"Went to yesterday’s matinee and thoroughly enjoyed it. Very grim in many ways, but wonderfully witty dialogue and an excellent cast. As Susan’s control slipped away more completely towards the end, I found myself wanting to stop the laughter around her… compelling performances all round. Sincere congratulations to all involved." Shelagh M

"Great show, I loved it! Congratulations to all involved." Julie B

"The intimate Sewell Barn stage leaves few places to hide and [Mandy] Kiley rises to the occasion. Hers is a masterful performance, both physically and vocally... " James Goffin - Cultivated [click here for full review]

"The Sewell Barn cast do great justice to this finely written script, and give us a play that may be difficult but is also a joy to watch... Director Peter Wood has marshalled his cast into giving a faultless and moving performance."   Julian Swainson, Norwich Eye [click here for full review]

"Brilliant play and performances by all especially Mandy Kiley, fantastic as always, and John Griffin excellent having stepped in so late. Don't miss this great show!" Ruth H

"Absolutely brilliant! Great play, well done!!" Vicky F

"It was really good - thought provoking and very well acted. Loved the backdrop of the garden through the gauze. The Barn does it again!" Shelagh S


The show plays 20-22 and 26-29 January, with a matinee on 29 January. Tickets £11/£10 from 0333 666 3366 or online at We are limiting audience numbers (to 60 out of our usual 100 seats) for your safety and comfort, so advance booking is highly recommended.

Friday, 26 November 2021

Three Russian Encounters

What happens to fictional characters when the stories they are in come to an end? Might those from one play mix with those from another, resuming their lives through a different author? Themes of illusion and theatrical conceit abound in Three Russian Encounters, providing a novel combination of three one-act plays ‒ by Russia’s most famous playwright, Anton Chekhov, and the much-acclaimed modern Irish dramatist, Brian Friel.

In The Yalta Game, adapted by Friel from Chekhov’s story, The Lady with the Lapdog, a couple meet, begin an affair and, as they play the game of imagining the lives of those around them, they invent their own story.

Afterplay brings together two of the characters from Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya and Three Sisters. Twenty years on, they share their stories, their ‘fictions’ and seek the ‘fortitude’ to keep going.

Swansong finds an ageing actor alone on the stage of a country theatre. His cries wake the Prompter with whom he reflects on past triumphs and his doubtful future.

Photography: Sean Owen

"This is theatre at its most powerful. The performances are finely drawn and very involving, and the atmosphere, and the lighting, I could go on! I found it haunting, moving and beautifully staged. And the final piece gave me goosebumps.   All in all, a haunting dream of a production which lingers in the mind long afterwards, and with good reason. Bravo!" Barnaby M

"These three short plays are triumphs of writing and are showcased by some seriously strong acting talent. It is an inspired selection of pieces by director Tony Fullwood, and a gem of an evening." James Goffin [click here to read full review

"That was utterly compelling…. I am moved to silence having been so deeply affected… every performance was totally captivating… please convey to all involved, from two very appreciative audience members… just wow! ... Often folk feel they have to be ‘nice’, commend the effort….but that was truly something of another order." Charlotte C

"Thank you for a wonderful evening of theatre yesterday. Great performances and excellent choice of play. Probably most thought provoking art in Norwich in November. Excellent work." James F

"Went to see Three Russian Encounters at the Sewell Barn. Brilliant evening. Well done everyone!" Etta G

"I guarantee that it will send you home satisfied yet thoughtful, inspired by three well written pieces. "Julian Swainson, Norwich Eye [click here to read full review]

"Bravo!!" Cherry C

"Yet another great performance at the Barn!" Shelagh S

"A fascinating evening at the theatre, with an artfully chosen trilogy of plays which chimed off each other in the most interesting of ways. Beautifully handled, of course, with very strong performers."  Jonathan

"Excellent show tonight - congratulations to all involved!" Trevor B

"I thought the production had an admirable clarity and a deceptive simplicity. I like Afterplay very much (I’m currently ploughing through essays on Three Sisters!). The actors were all thinking and listening to each other and there was a lot of good, but not fussy or cluttered, detailed work onstage. So well done all!" Tony (UEA Drama lecturer)

"We really enjoyed it! Well done to all involved." Tasha P

"We really enjoyed the plays the other evening. To the extent that Mike is now rediscovering a rather old copy of Chekhov from our bookshelf! Such a good production, and the actors were impressive. Thank you."  Helen

"A most enjoyable Sat matinee of Three Encounters! Well cast with some beautiful introspective moments and good projection!" Robin S

"Absolutely brilliant performances by Steven Scase, Poppy Hiscox, Jen Alexander, Dawn Brindle, David White and Kevin Oelrichs. Only two performances left so I urge you to go and show them your support." Laura L

"My friend and I, as part of our weekend in Norwich, saw [Three Russian Encounters] at the Sewell Barn on Saturday 4th December, and were delighted with the quality of the acting." Roy T

"[We] attended the performance of ‘Russian Encounters’ yesterday evening and we wanted to thank you and everyone at the theatre for an immensely enjoyable evening.  All three plays were extremely well performed and thought provoking. It never fails to amaze us at the quality of the performances at the theatre. I know it’s a small theatre in the scheme of things but delivers Big performances every time, without fail. It just proves the calibre of actors and backroom staff. Please extend our grateful thanks to all involved. The talented cast members of all three plays delivered an exceedingly entertaining evening which we both appreciated enormously. Bravo." Linda & James 

Friday, 15 October 2021

Love, Love, Love

Lost idealism and parental responsibility are the themes of Mike Bartlett's sparkling satirical play. Kenneth and Sandra meet, get married, have children, divorce and settle into retirement. We follow their trajectory in three acts, that take place in 1967, 1990 and 2011 – each capturing a specific moment in family life and British politics.

Written ten years ago, Bartlett’s play eviscerates the still-mostly-with-us ‘60s generation with a painfully funny savagery. The pertinence of his ferociously sharp, and sometimes simply ferocious, observations about the baby boomers and their disaffected Generation X children has not changed in the intervening decade.

Photography: Barry Parsons

"Fabulous energy, excellent performances, powerful subject, thought provoking AND funny - great show, thank you!" Harriet W

 "I enjoyed the play, interesting and relevant... I thought that the Gen X woman [Emma Kirkham as Rose] was exceptionally good... Phil's sets also always amaze me with their inventiveness." Chris B

"All four of us thought ‘Love, Love, Love’ was absolutely brilliant last night – it filled the conversation all the way back to North Walsham and beyond! PS: Also meant to say how brilliant the Staging was – the extra applause was well deserved. We are wondering whether have interchangeable wall panels for our lounge so we can change it each week!" Roy & Eva T

"If you get a chance to see this play I unhesitatingly recommend that you do. Well written, brilliantly acted and staged and proof that the Sewell Barn Theatre company are back with a winner." Julian Swainson, Norwich Eye [click here for full review]

"Congratulations Clare Williamson and cast/crew of LOVE, LOVE, LOVE (Sewell Barn Theatre). Provocative, funny, portrayal of so much that needs addressing in society... left me wanting to see what these characters would be doing in 2021! Looking forward to seeing it again next week - get a ticket if you can!" Jen A

"Brilliant play, so well done... really good, thoroughly enjoyed it." Vicky F

"...plenty of funny dialogue and entertaining action, and the Sewell Barn cast make the most of it..." James Goffin, Cultivated [click here for full review]

"Just wanted to say how much Nick and I enjoyed (if that's the right word ...) last night's performance. Entertaining, witty stuff - whilst also absolutely brutal. Jonathan, I found your character both truly compelling and utterly despicable ... well done! It's a 20 minute walk home for us - and we talked about it all the way." Shelagh M [Secretary to the Sewell Barn Trustees]

"...just wanted to say how much we enjoyed the performance Thursday evening. Please extend our congratulations to all involved." Linda O

"A very entertaining evening with some uncomfortable truths! Well worth a watch." Barnaby M

"[Message to Emma, who played Rose]: I just wanted to say that I thought your performance last night was outstanding!!! You crossed the age barriers effortlessly and the passion in the final act was amazing!!! Well done you!!! My friend and I enjoyed the show immensely and we thought your brother was excellent too!! Well done to the entire cast, it is a great show!!" Wendy A

"We loved the production of this show even if we did go home somewhat emotionally bruised. Well done everyone, very well acted, brilliantly staged - great sets as always. A pleasure to be back at the Barn." Shelagh & Alan S