Powerful Western comes to Bedford stage

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance runs from Tuesday, September 11, to Friday, September 15
The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance runs from Tuesday, September 11, to Friday, September 15

Theatregoers in Bedford are invited to journey into the Wild West of the 1890s as a classic story comes to life at The Place.

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance is a tale of love, hope and revenge set against the vicious backdrop of a lawless society.

When a young scholar from New York travels west in search of a new life, he arrives beaten and half-dead on the dusty streets of Twotrees. Rescued from the plains, the town soon becomes his home as he finds the love of a local girl.

This love gives him purpose – but the question remains whether it is enough to save him from the outlaw who wants him dead. He must make the choice to turn and run or to stand for what he believes.

The play is based on the short story by the award-winning author Dorothy M Johnson, writer of The Hanging Tree and A Man Called Horse. It has been adapted for the stage by Jethro Compton, whose recent credits include White Fang, The Frontier Trilogy and The Bunker Trilogy.

Director David Baxter said: “For me, the core of this play is about love – the love of two mis-matched souls in a violent world, the unrequited love of a lonely man for a woman he deep down knows he will never have and a love for learning and knowledge which can lead to danger.

“The western setting brings these themes into sharp focus, in a land where violence and casual death were commonplace and all too easy to come across.

“The play begins and ends with a funeral. What sits between is the question of how we love each other in the time we have, given the pressures and interference from the outside world.”

The play is presented by the Swan Theatre Company, which won acclaim for its production of Jez Butterworth’s Jerusalem in March. The company prides itself on attention to detail and the quality of its performances.

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance runs from Tuesday, September 11, to Friday, September 15. Tickets cost £12 or £10 concessions. Visit theplace

bedford.org.uk to book.