A new show is set to focus on one of Dorset’s most grisly crimes.

The Ballad of Martha Brown arrives at the Lighthouse Poole on Tuesday, June 17.

Set in 1856, the play is a tale of jealousy and passion based on the true story of Martha Brown, the last woman to be publicly hanged in Dorset. Martha murdered her husband with an axe and then accused a horse of killing him. The Ballad of Martha Brown examines the story behind the headline.

Produced in association with Lighthouse and Dorchester Arts, The Ballad of Martha Brown was created and rehearsed at the two arts centres before setting out on a 32 date tour.

This new show by Dorset’s acclaimed physical theatre company Angel Exit Theatre is spliced through with wicked humour, an original score, macabre songs and live music, as a procession of hollow-eyed storytellers invite you into their mysterious world where reality and fantasy blur as the events of Martha’s life are played out under the constant stare of the gallows above.

Standing close to the gallows, on that fateful day, was a young Thomas Hardy, who later recalled: “I remember what a fine figure she showed against the sky as she hung in the misty rain and how the tight black silk gown set off her shape as she wheeled half round and back.”

It’s said that his vivid memory of watching Martha hang inspired him to write Tess of the D’Urbevilles.

The company have taken this true story and retold it using an ensemble of five actor-musicians who bring this tale to life with music inspired by the dark cabaret of Kurt Weill, and the theatricality of Brecht’s Berliner Ensemble.

Directors Tamsin Fessey and Lynne Forbes are also performing in the show.

For more call 0844 4068666 or visit lighthousepoole.co.uk