A theatrical feast for the town as The Bedford Play is staged

Writer and director Mark Burgess with Charlotte Barnett and Josh Dogra

Writer and director Mark Burgess with Charlotte Barnett and Josh Dogra

A special play retelling the story of Bedford will be stagedin the town next week.

Somewhere in England (The Bedford Play) was commissioned by The Harpur Trust as part of its 450th anniversary celebrations.

It uncovers the lives of key Bedfordians, famous people connected to the town – even Nelson Mandela features in the play – and the stories behind some of the town’s landmarks, including the Cardington Hangars, The Bedford Swan Hotel and Bedford’s bridges.

Writer and director Mark Burgess said: “The title reflects the fact that the BBC’s Music and Religious Departments were based in Bedford during the Second World War, broadcasting from Bedford venues. The town’s true identity had to remain a secret to avoid being bombed by Hitler’s Luftwaffe and so the broadcasts were always announced as being live from somewhere in England.”

While primarily set in the early 1940s when stars such as David Niven, Vera Lynn and Glenn Miller were often seen wandering through the streets of Bedford, the play moves back and forth in time exploring a host of stories.

With costumes hired in from the National Theatre, professional actors and a live orchestra, the play promises to be a real treat for Bedfordians and anyone connected with the town.

Mark added: “My aim in writing the play was to encapsulate the history and spirit of the town within the space of a two-hour stage production. I wanted many of the familiar people, places and events to be represented, as well as some of the less familiar ones.”

The play features nine professional actors who are each experienced in a range of media from television and radio to stage performances and pantomime, while the two child roles will be performed by local pupils Josh Dogra and Charlotte Barnett, who both attend Bedford Modern School.

The Harpur Trust will be offering a number of free tickets for schools and for local community and voluntary groups, as well as for the residents in its Almshouses.

The play runs at the Quarry Theatre, St Luke’s, from Thursday to Wednesday, September 8 to 14. Visit www.quarrytheatre.org.uk or call 01234 362337/362335 to book.

Visit www.harpurtrust.org.uk/450 for more.