Distinctive amateur drama
in Northampton since 1932

Registered Charity No. 294848


Join Masque Theatre




Useful Links


The Herbal Bed
by Peter Whelan

Cast & Crew

John Hall Martin Williams
Kathryn Berrill
Philippa Pollitt
Rafe Smith Darren Streeton
Jack Lane
Martin Winsley
Helen Jenkinson
Bishop Parry
David Ashton
Vicar-General Goche
Michael Gallant
Daniel Blundell, Robert Morgan

Director Ursula Wright
Stage Manager
Clare Brittain
Assistant Stage Manager / Continuity
Suzanne Wilson
Set Design & Construction
Derek Banyard, Clare Colman
Alison Dunmore, Dorothy Granger, Pamela Manning, Masque Costumes
Lighting & Sound
John Hendy, The Works
Assisted by
Rebecca Bryan, Layla Meenan, Jenny Crowe
Front of House
Mary Greaves
Grace Ciappara
Poster Design
Tony Janney

A scene from The Herbal Bed

Production No. 313

More images from The Herbal Bed


Ursula Wright, director

ln l6l3 Susanna Hall, the eldest daughter of William Shakespeare. was publicly accused of immoral behaviour by her husband's apprentice, Master Jack Lane of Alveston Manor.

Susanna, married to a successfiil and much respected physician in Stratford, and mother of a five-year old daughter Elizabeth, responded by bringing a charge of slander against Master Lane in the diocesan court at Worcester.

Peter Whelan's humorous and absorbing play, first produced by the RSC in I996 and subsequently transferred to the West End, explores the moral dilemma behind the bare historical facts.

Just how close was Susanna to Rafe Smith the haberdasher who brought lace and silks to their house?

For whom were the lead plates and Venice turpentine, remedy against venereal disease, intended‘?

Will the young servant girl Hester remember what she is to say in court?

Did Dr. John Hall compromise his integrity to save his professional reputation and his marriage?

What is the nature of true love and what is the price of truth?

This production, in the courtyard of Abington Museum, marks the return of Masque Theatre after an absence of ten years, to this beautiful, intimate open-air setting.

It is also especially appropriate as Elizabeth Hall, Shakespeare's granddaughter, who appears in the play as a little girl, grew up to be mistress of Abington Manor after her second marriage and is buried in the church a few yards away.

As you sit in the courtyard, filled with growing hcrbs for the week of the production, you will be carried back into the mysterious and private world of Shakespeare, voted “the man of the millennium".

Tickets £5 (£4 concessions, £3 Masque members).

If a performance is cancelled because of heavy or persistent rain, money will be refunded or seats offered for a replacement performance on Sun 1 Oct. Bring a rug and umbrella!

27 - 30 September 2000
In the open-air in the courtyard of Abington Park Museum, Northampton

Page last updated: 18/02/2013 Masque Theatre © 2013


Northampton Chronicle & Echo, 7 September 2000

After an absence of nearly 330 years, Shakespeare’s granddaughter Elizabeth will return to her old Northampton home this month.

The former mistress of Abington Manor is one of the characters in the latest play being performed by The Masque Theatre.

The Herbal Bed is being staged at Abington Park Museum Courtyard, just yards away from Elizabeth’s final resting place.

Peter Whelan’s absorbing play is about a scandal involving Elizabeth’s mother, Susanna Hall, who was Shakespeare’s oldest daughter.

In 1613, Susanna was said to be having an affair with a haberdasher and publicly accused of immoral behaviour.

Susanna, who was married to a respected physician and mother of five-year-old Elizabeth, responded by bringing a charge of slander against her accuser in the diocesan court at Worcester.

Producer Ursula Wright said: "Rehearsals are going very well, pots of herbs are being brought on under glass at Delapre Abbey, costumes are being fitted and authentic looking pots and jars for the dispensary being collected.”

Phillipa Pollitt, aged five, plays Elizabeth, Kathryn Berrill is Susanna, Martin Williams takes the role of Dr John Hall and Darren Streeton is the haberdasher Rafe Smith.

The parts of the accuser Jack Lane and the servant Hester are played by Martin Winsley and Helen Jenkinson.

A scene from The Herbal Bed