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The Welkin

The Welkin

By Lucy Kirkwood
Imprint: Nick Hern Books
Paperback : 9781848429215, 128 pages, January 2020


Rural Suffolk, 1759. As the country waits for Halley's Comet, Sally Poppy is sentenced to hang for a heinous murder. When she claims to be pregnant, a jury of twelve matrons are taken from their housework to decide whether she's telling the truth, or simply trying to escape the noose.

With only midwife Lizzy Luke prepared to defend the girl, and a mob baying for blood outside, the matrons wrestle with their new authority, and the devil in their midst.

Lucy Kirkwood's play The Welkin premiered at the National Theatre, London, in January 2020, directed by James Macdonald and featuring Maxine Peake and Ria Zmitrowicz.


"Brilliant, brave, bold and intelligent theatre. It is, for all the seriousness of its subject, often very funny yet at the close, profoundly moving."

- WhatsOnStage

"Ungoverned, furious, larky, layered... sheer, gutsy audacity."

- Evening Standard

"A superb new history play—a feminist courtroom drama that's equal parts Twelve Angry MenThe Crucible and The Vagina Monologues, plus a dash of searing, up-to-the-minute political and social commentary... a warm, humane and very funny piece, firmly anchored in women's everyday experience."

- Broadway World

"A mighty play: magnificent in its scope, depth and intricacy... a wise, funny, richly intelligent and generously ambitious play that asks, as all good history plays do, how far have we really come?"

- Financial Times

"Dazzles with its examination of the big, immovable structures that inflict violence on women... there is so much richness in its visual imagination."

- Guardian