Life from Mars discovered on the fringe
Friday 16 August 1996
The verse play by the poet and playwright Glyn Maxwell, winner of the Somerset Maugham Prize for poetry, dramatises accounts by two monks of the bizarre discovery of a green girl and boy in a wolfpit near the Suffolk village of St Mary Woolpit in 1154.
According to the tales, their skin was "leek green" and they refused to eat until they came upon some green beans, which they ate with avidity.
The boy, who was "oppressed by langour", died, but his sister gradually lost her green colour after she started to eat bread and later married.
Ralph of Coggeshall, one of the monks, observes dispassionately that the girl was "very lascivious and wanton. Questioned frequently concerning the men of the region, she averred that all dwellers and things in the region were tinged with a green colour, and that they perceived no sun, but enjoyed a certain brightness such as happens after sunset.
"Questioned further by what means she had come into this land with the aforesaid boy, she replied that because they were following some cattle, they came into a cave. Having entered which, they heard a certain delectable sound of bells; caught up in sweetness of which sound, they walked for a long time, wandering through the cavern, until they came to the exit of it."
The premiere of Wolfpit is being performed at the Garage Theatre by the Cambridge University Amateur Dramatic Club, whose former members include Emma Thompson, Stephen Fry, John Cleese, Sam Mendes and Tony Slattery.
Sally Moss, the second-year English student who is directing the play, made contact with Maxwell after attending one of his poetry readings and sending him a fan letter. He offered her the play when she asked if he had any unknown work she could direct.
The Poet Laureate, Ted Hughes, described Wolfpit, published by Arc last week, as a "fascinating and intriguing work" after reading the manuscript.
Maxwell said: "The play is about how we don't actually want the miraculous to happen. In the end, you see the village closing up again like a wound that has healed."
BBC Trust agrees to axe channel from TV in favour of digital moveTV
Final Top Gear reviewTV
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Man who was struck and killed by lightning in Brecon Beacons 'was carrying a selfie stick'
- 2 Lisa Randolph-Gant: Queen Elsa cake maker says she will carry on baking and will not let people 'break her spirit'
- 3 Tube strike: This pedestrian-friendly map tells you the time it takes to walk between stations
- 4 Pamplona Running of the Bulls 2015: Three men gored and 10 hospitalised on first day of festival
- 5 Sarah Jessica Parker explains why she is not a feminist: 'It's not just about women now'
Artist Milo Moire arrested in Paris for taking naked selfies with passers-by in front of the Eiffel Tower
Is Jon Snow dead? Theories stoked by Kit Harrington's longer hair despite Game of Thrones director claiming he's 'deader than dead'
Noel Gallagher actually gives Kanye West some credit for his Glastonbury headline set: 'For half an hour it was as good as it gets'
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas run through Google's Deep Dream neural network is pure nightmare fuel
Chris Moyles reportedly set to make radio comeback with new breakfast show on XFM
More Britons believe that multiculturalism makes the country worse - not better, says poll
Osborne to cap family benefits at £23,000 – announced ahead of his post-election Budget
Nathan Collier: Montana man inspired by same-sex marriage ruling requests right to wed two wives
Sickness and disability benefits could be reduced by £30 a week as part of £12bn welfare cuts
Greece debt crisis: Angela Merkel and Francois Hollande issue Athens with 24-hour ultimatum to avoid crashing out of the euro
Greece crisis: Referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its lack of genuine legitimacy