The Dead Moon (2008)

The Museum of East Anglian Life; The New Cut, Halesworth; The Little Theatre, Sheringham; The Pump House, Aldeburgh; Seckford Theatre, Woodbridge

The Quay Theatre, Sudbury.

"Great theatre...Ann Firbank plays an old harridan, or wise chorus, commenting on the action and stiffening the backbone of the locals, with the crunch of feet on the shingle in her voice and moon shadows across marshes in her eyes" — David Porter, Eastern Daily Press, July 2008

The Dead Moon is a show for all ages over eight years old with East Anglian step dancers and traditional singers joining in the performances and with the audience singing in the sea shanties. It is a powerful human story set in Suffolk about a family caught up in the temptations and dangers of smuggling and where being caught meant the death penalty or transportation. Threaded through the drama is the mysterious and evocative folk tale The Dead Moon told by old Bessie, Catchpole, once a notorious smuggler and still causing trouble.


Steeped in atmosphere this forgotten world of superstition and folklore is brought to life through drama, songs, shadow play and storytelling. With her extraordinary vocal effects and instrumental sounds Sylvia Hallett provides traditional and new music evoking the sea, the marshes and those terrifying bogles and boggarts who threaten anyone who dare venture out at night.



Writer: Tim Downie

Script advisor/additional text: Claude Harz

Director: Alys Kihl

Composer and musician: Sylvia Hallett

Set and costume designer: Claire Lyth

Stage manager: Heather Meecham

Lighting : Blackwing

Lighting technician: Max Wingate

Technical manager: Roderick Orr-Ewing




Ann Firbank

Sasha Mitchell

Charles Neville

Matt Prendergast


Special Guests


Traditional singer: Vernon Rose

Stepdancer and traditional singer:

Richard Davies

Step dancers: Maddy Thorp, Lenny Whiting, Percy and Doreen West



Aldeburgh Music offered Wonderful Beast two residencies at Snape for research and development which were invaluable for the company.





ACE East

The Scarfe Charitable Trust

Adnams Charitable Trust

Triangle Trust

Private donors.


Audience comments


"The highlight is the music/sound effects created by Sylvia Hallett sitting at the side with a range of instruments from violin to kalimbe and including her magnificent voice. She makes sounds, weird, chilling, terrifying and atmospheric."


"What a triumph! We enjoyed every minute of The Dead Moon. It was a most brilliant production and appealed to every age. — Anthea Stewart


"We had a tremendous time! The play was based on real life. We didn't know that much about smuggling. The tap dancing was brilliant. When the audience was singing (especially our class) the roof was going to fall off."

— Sadek and Jabal (from Virginia Primary School, Tower Hamlets)