IMAGINE: the world is only 6000 years old, and everything was created in six days…
This was the England into which Mary Anning was born – just two hundred years ago.
Then came the pioneering work of geologists, studying rocks and fossils. The accepted truths about the world were blown apart; it became clear that there had been a vast prehistoric age, with unimaginable monsters roaming the earth and swimming in the seas.
Mary Anning played a key part in these extraordinary times. She discovered the first complete fossil of a prehistoric reptile in Great Britain – at the age of twelve. Throughout her life, she continued to make ground-breaking and spectacular discoveries.
In Alison Neil’s highly entertaining play, Mary Anning tells her fascinating story, and that of “the fine clever men of science” who took most of the credit for her work. The tale of her life, her friendships, her struggle to make her mark (and put food on the table) is both amusing and moving.
And…by the end of the show, you will surely know the difference between an ichthyosaur and a plesiosaur!
ACT ONE Running time: 50 minutes
ACT TWO Running time: 50minutes
THERE IS NO ONE HOUR VERSION
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"An extraordinary woman brought to life in a fascinating evening.
"Neil, surrounded by cleverly-created fossil shop scenery, created a vivid picture of Mary's life.
"As Alison Neil took us through this unusual woman's life with its hardships, tragedies and extraordinary finds, it was difficult to believe that it was not Anning herself standing on the stage, so realistically did she portray her"
NEWBURY WEEKLY NEWS
“Her research into the lives of her characters and their times is meticulous, the writing compelling, spot-on, and the acting marvellous.”
"Alison Neil fully captures the tone of voice, manners, prejudices, enthusiasms, and attitudes to create a cast of four or five utterly convincing characters. The skill and ingenuity in the creation of these characters brings Mary’s story vividly to life. There is humour and sadness, and always the great regret that Mary Anning accomplished so much and yet received so little recognition.”
"Marvellous show...mesmerising and richly varied performance. Go and see Alison Neil bring this remarkable woman to vibrant, and sometimes comical, life."
FINE TIMES RECORDER (DORSET)
"The show really was excellent and everyone enjoyed it. I must confess that I wasn't at all sure what to expect - I certainly wasn't expecting to laugh, cry and everything else in between..."
MANAGER, THE ETCHES COLLECTION, KIMMERIDGE 2016
"What an absolute delight the whole evening was! You were wonderful, the play was so moving, and everyone enjoyed it tremendously."
TENBY & DISTRICT ARTS CLUB
"...it was a truly wonderful evening and the feed back that I have had has just been of the very highest order - so much praise for your characterisation, the way that Mary's story unfolded through her portrayal of others she encountered, the way in which the actual geology was made accessible to those who knew only a little about that subject and the light touches of humour that kept occurring throughout the piece. Finally, the total transformation of our hall by your set also drew many appreciative comments!
PROMOTER, TALATON VILLAGE HALL, DEVON 2018
"Very many thanks for the wonderful evening you gave us. There were many smiling faces as the audience left for home with ‘Wonderful' and 'Marvellous’ on most lips. “When is she coming again?" was the general feeling."
PROMOTER, YARCOMBE JUBILEE HALL, DEVON
" It was stunning! Everyone in the audience was absolutely blown away - people are still asking each other if they saw the play and saying how fantastic it was, and how riveted they were by it. The set was marvellous, too.
Thank you so much for bringing the play to the Festival, I'm sure it will remain in our memories as one of the highlights of the 2016 programme."
EVENTS CO-ORDINATOR, ARTS FESTIVAL, HUNGERFORD
"We are receiving universally wonderful feedback at the office- I’m so glad the show went so well! It was one of the village's first promotions and we can safely say they were over the moon! Thank you for being so very well-organised – an absolute pleasure to have worked with you."
VILLAGES IN ACTION RURAL TOURING SCHEME, DEVON
"Thank you for your wonderful show. It was a real pleasure to watch and I'm so glad how well it was received. I hope you got to hear some of the lovely feedback people were saying about how much they enjoyed it. Hope we see you on the Rural Touring circuit again soon."
CHARITY COLBOURNE, RURAL ARTS TOURING FOR WILTSHIRE AND
"Many thanks for your wonderful performance - I have heard so many positive remarks."
IAN SCOTT, ARTSREACH RURAL TOURING SCHEME
"Excellent. Superb. What a thoroughly enjoyable night. The research was formidable. The writing first class as always. Characterisation so interesting, credible, and in this case, so appealing. I beamed all the way through except when tears came to my eyes. Best I've seen her do and I'd watch again."
DIRECTOR, NEWPORT PLAYGOERS SOCIETY
"I have just enjoyed an amazing evening of theatre - thank you SO much. It is rare that I listen intently to every word and I did just that tonight. The whole content was extremely interesting, the various characters beautifully portrayed and the setting was so good. Congratulations and thank you."
FORMER CHAIRMAN, BACKWELL DRAMA CLUB
"I was fascinated, moved, informed and entertained. I feel I knew Mary Anning by the end of the evening, and I enjoyed her company. All of the audience that I spoke to were unanimous in their praise of the content of the show, and of your consummate skills as an actor and writer."
PRESIDENT, NEWPORT PLAYGOERS SOCIETY
"Everyone who came really seemed to appreciate the show. Not only was it entertaining but also educational - quite a rare combination."
MANAGER, BACKWELL PLAYHOUSE THEATRE
AUDIENCE EMAIL COMMENTS…
"We thought you were amazing! It was the best piece of pure theatre we have seen in ages. Your performance was spellbinding. Thanks for a magical evening."
"Spellbinding...I was blown away! You truly brought her to life for us, brilliantly evoking the wonder and awe that must have been felt back then, when these 'curios' began to be studied, and the bible was turned upside down. And you magicked up the poverty and sexual inequality, and the grind too. And you were touching and funny as well! The play was so well-crafted and vibrantly acted. Heartfelt congratulations and thanks!"
"Thank you for a wonderful play and performance this evening – engaging and admirable. We don't stand to applaud very often – you deserved it!"
THE ETCHES COLLECTION, KIMMERIDGE (DORSET'S FOSSIL MUSEUM)
“We enjoyed it tremendously. A couple of times, at the poignant moments, I had to remind myself that it was an actor, not really Mary Anning, who was speaking."
"Just wanted to say how much we loved your performance. It really moved us and we were both crying by the end. Your writing is so evocative of the time, showing her wryness but not bitterness at the limitation that existed for an intelligent woman from the poorer classes in the first part of the nineteenth century. Thank you so much for a mesmerising and totally engrossing performance."
"Totally mesmerising, fascinating, informative and moving in equal measures. A great evening and the highest quality entertainment....feel very lucky to have been there."
"The story unfolded very skillfully...you progressively engaged our sympathy for the treatment of women in those days until we were almost shouting 'down with the fine clever men' at the end! What a brilliant person you must be both to write the play and act so absorbingly well. We congratulate you...and thanks for an absorbing evening"
"A delightful evening, so interesting and amazingly performed."
"Absolutely stunning, both in terms of your brilliant acting and from the point of view of teaching us all so much and so subtly!"
"A splendid piece of live theatre. Bravo!"
"Your performance truly was a tour de force - the most fascinating, amusing, spellbinding evening. Thank you for a magnificent couple of hours."
"We were completely absorbed from beginning to end. Such a talented lady. We thoroughly recommend it!"