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Lullabies of Broadmoor - A Broadmoor Quartet

Written by Steve Hennessy

12 Jul 2011 to 13 Jul 2011
The Corner House, Froome

19 Jul 2011 to 23 Jul 2011
Alma Tavern Theatre, Bristol

25 Jul 2011 to 26 Jul 2011
The Nightingale Theatre, Brighton

03 Aug 2011 to 27 Aug 2011
C-Venues, Edinburgh Fringe Festival

30 Aug 2011 to 01 Oct 2011
The Finborough Theatre, London

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Nine years in the making - the four linked plays of Lullabies of Broadmoor weave together the closely linked stories of five of Broadmoor's most notorious inmates of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century with the stories of those they murdered. The sequence of plays form a rich, dark, Gothic tragicomedy about murder, love, madness, personal responsibility and redemption.

As part of preparations for this production, the creative team were given special access to Broadmoor Hospital.

The four plays use the same cast, and some characters appear in more than one play. Following the acclaimed London premiere at the Finborough Theatre of the first two plays in the quartet in 2004, all four of the plays were produced together for the first time in 2011.

This massively ambitious production toured all four plays to five cities over an eleven week period, including a full run at the Edinburgh Festival and five weeks at the Finborough in London. It received considerable critical acclaim and excellent audience feedback.

The complete scripts of all four plays is published as a programme playtext by Oberon Books, it is available from the Stepping Out office.

Venus at Broadmoor

1870. The madness of love. A string of random poisonings around Brighton result in the admission of Christiana Edmunds to Broadmoor Criminal Lunatic Asylum. The penny dreadfuls call her the Chocolate Cream Poisoner, but she prefers to be called Venus. Dr. Orange is struggling to understand why. Principal Attendant Coleman is struggling to stay off the drink. The Broadmoor Annual Ball is approaching. Christiana just wants to dance. Based on the true story of Broadmoor's most notorious female patient.

The Demon Box

1872. Inside Broadmoor. Inside the black box of the theatre. Inside the head of Richard Dadd. On a trip to Egypt, the great Victorian artist Richard Dadd believed that he had been contacted by the god Osiris. Upon his return, at the god's bidding, he murdered his father. He spent the rest of his life in Bethlem and Broadmoor. While there he spent nine years working on his eerie masterpiece 'The Fairy Feller's Master Stroke'. In 1872 he was given the job of renovating the theatre at Broadmoor . .

The Murder Club

1922. Murder is in the air. The British Government is engaged in a genocidal war in Iraq using poison gas and other weapons of mass destruction and two notorious murderers are meeting in Broadmoor for the first time. Small time conman Ronald True murdered the prostitute Olive Young. Embittered out of work actor Richard Prince murdered matinee idol William Terriss at the stage door of the Adelphi Theatre. Now the two men have been put in charge of an evening of entertainment at Broadmoor. The Murder Club was commissioned by the Finborough Theatre to tell the infamous history of a murder committed on the Finborough Road itself, just down the road from the theatre.


A journey from the battlefields of the American Civil War to the cells of nineteenth century Broadmoor by way of one of the most famous murders in Victorian Lambeth. This is the story of William Chester Minor, one time surgeon in the American Union Army and a major contributor to the Oxford English Dictionary.

Show photos


Venus at Broadmoor
Dr. Orange - Chris Bianchi
Dr. Beard - Chris Courtenay
John Coleman - Chris Donnelly
Christiana Edmunds - Violet Ryder

The Demon Box
Richard Dadd - Chris Bianchi
William Chester Minor - Chris Courtenay
John Coleman - Chris Donnelly
Ariel - Violet Ryder

The Murder Club
Ronald True - Chris Bianchi
Richard Prince - Chris Courtenay
John Coleman - Chris Donnelly
Olive Young - Violet Ryder

George Merrett - Chris Bianchi
William Chester Minor - Chris Courtenay
John Coleman - Chris Donnelly
Eliza Merrett - Violet Ryder


Director - Chris Loveless
Set Designer - Ann Stiddard
Lighting Designer - Tim Bartlett
Costume Designer - Rebecca Sellors
Movement Director - Cheryl Douglas
Stage Combat - Chris Donnelly


"Stepping Out Theatre produces work exclusively dealing with mental health issues, and their experience shows . . It's compelling stuff, performed by a strong cast. Genuinely moving one moment and darkly funny the next, this is a great way to round off your Festival day."
     Alistaire Quaile, Three Weeks

"It is one of those rare moments in theatre where it all jells into a complete whole. Import and export for radio, foreign festivals, or Off Broadway!"
     Blanche Marvin, London Theatreviews

"Hennessy offers four hours of drama that is disturbing, distressing, and richly absorbing."
 Sam Marlowe, The Times

"Author Steve Hennessy has created a cycle of morality plays for the modern psyche - a steady, occasionally witty, yet stylised quartet of plays that are eminently watchable, deeply moral and yet refuse to preach or exact any retrospective reform."
 Paul Vale, The Stage

"This quartet of plays travels deep into psychosis, showing effects and suggesting causes, not flinching from the horror but with compassion as well as with superb theatricality . . dark material that is surprisingly funny and moving as well as shocking and disturbing . . But the most memorable aspect of all four plays is the scripts, crafted with insight, anger, sadness, and compassion . . "
 Crysse Morrison, Plays International

"it does what theatre should: it's demanding, challenging, absorbing and entertaining. Small scale theatre at its large scale best."
 Jill Glenn, Optima Magazine

"A piquant mix of witty Gothic ghoulishness and serious moral questioning . . absorbing and atmospheric"
 The Independent


Stepping Out Theatre
13 Creedwell Orchard

Registered Charity (CIO) 1179310 (since July 2018), Formerly Charity 1117912 (since February 2007)

m. 07896 684097

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