Townsend Touring Productions
MUST SEE The Stage
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED Fringe Review
★★★★★ Edinburgh Reporter “Very much a play to appeal to all ages”
★★★★★ “Excellent new play on the Tolpuddle Martyrs is a five-star triumph”
★★★★ Fest “it’s a charming, family-friendly piece that presents an important bit of history inventively and enjoyably.”
★★★★ The List “This utterly charming play is a delight”
★★★★ All Edinburgh Theatre “Magnificent entertainment”
“Small but perfectly formed” Northern Echo
Based around the true story of the Tolpuddle Martyrs. Set in 1834, WE WILL BE FREE! follows the extraordinary story of George and Betsy Loveless. He was a Methodist minister and the leader of the six Dorset farm labourers who were tried, convicted and condemned to harsh transportation by an oppressive Government for having the temerity to swear a secret oath and form a secret union to fight against a succession of wage cuts inflicted by the local landowner.
As this fast and furious story that defined the emergence of Trades Unionism and Chartism unravels, we see how the arch tyrant-in-chief James Frampton, local squire and magistrate springs the trap, how Lord Melbourne, Home Secretary delights in ordering dodgy legal proceedings, how labourer Edward Legg betrays the Martyrs and how the judiciary revel in the use of his evidence to condemn the Martyrs to imprisonment and transportation to Australia. We see too the anguish of their families and the subsequent howl of protest and the battle for their reprieve. They will be remembered for their courage and their legacy, the lawful right to belong to a trade union. Through it all we see how events affected the lives and relationship of George and Betsy and how it strengthened their religious and political resolve.
This vitally important story is told using the entertaining theatrical style developed through our production of The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists; through Andy Vine's powerful political cartoons and animation; through puppetry and the exquisite musical arrangements by revered folk singer and squeezebox player John Kirkpatrick, of the songs and rallying hymns of the Dorset labouring classes that resound down the years.
The reviews have been great and feedback from audiences and venues have been consistently excellent, and thank you so much to everyone who has been to see us and given us a great reception everywhere we’ve been. There’s a great need and desire to have this play out there that addresses current issues that matter to so many people.
We are also immensely proud to be sponsored by nearly all the trades unions, the TUC and Wales TUC. They have all enthusiastically backed the production and continue to offer us tremendous help and support. A massive thank you goes out to all those that have put their faith in us to do a good job.
Richard Stone will be in the show up to the end of the Spring tour 2013