Bristol Theatre News

Polly (The Heartbreak Opera) at The Wardrobe Theatre Bristol

Marie Hamilton and Sharp Teeth Theatre stage new adaptation of banned play in Bristol

A ‘riotous’ adaptation of John Gay’s banned sequel to The Beggar’s Opera, will be taking place at The Wardrobe Theatre this month.

Polly (The Heartbreak Opera) is described as ‘wild’ and ’empowering’ by co-writer and performer Marie Hamilton.

The new adaptation re-writes John Gay’s original satire for 2024 audiences, whilst still reflecting shared inequalities of the present day. The original 1729 piece of work by John Gay was banned during his lifetime for its gender-bending, anti-colonialist and proto-feminist themes. He never saw it staged.

This new show, which is a collaboration between Marie Hamilton and Sharp Teeth Theatre, continues to embrace the original gender, colonialism and women’s rights issues.

The action takes place in a tacky beach resort on a storm hit island. With techno, tracksuits and palm trees, we meet jilted brides, drag king politicians, a pregnant murderess and a pirate boyband called Blazin’ Squid.

The show features 18 original songs inspired by the likes of Peaches, Britney and Nina Simone. The score has been created by Ben Osborn, Madeline Shann and Ellie Showering.

Polly had been due to go out on a big tour in the spring of 2020, which saw everything in the world abruptly stop due to the pandemic. It’s since taken a couple of years for the company to be able to fit a new run back into their shared schedule. But it looks like it’s definitely been worth the wait. The high energy show looks set to be another banging success for the Old Market theatre.

Hamilton says: “It’s been a long time coming, and we’re so ready to bring this brave and beautiful show back out, our joyous retaliation to all the right-wing rhetoric around: a dirty, angry, and most importantly, very funny call to arms.”


Polly (The Heartbreak Opera) will be at The Wardrobe Theatre from Friday 12 April – Monday 20 April 2024

For more information or to book: https://thewardrobetheatre.com/shows/polly-the-heartbreak-opera/

Cast and Creatives
Marie Hamilton – Captain Macheath/Lucy Lockitt/Mrs. Trapes/Mrs. Ducat
Madeleine Shann – The Poet
Genevieve Sabherwal – Polly Peachum
Sedona Rose – Jenny Diver/Mayor Ducat/Mrs. Peachum

Presented by Marie Hamilton and Sharp Teeth Theatre
Director Stephanie Kempson
Composer Ben Osborn
Score by Ben Osborn, Madeline Shann and Ellie Showering

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