A GRIPPING drama, partly written especially for a Woking drama group by an EastEnders scriptwriter is coming to the Rhoda McGaw Theatre.

Burning the Witch has been adapted for the stage from acclaimed radio dramas, with a third act wrapping up the story.

The first act is based on This Repulsive Woman, which was broadcast on BBC Radio 4 and written by Christopher Reason as a “rapid reaction play” inspired by the Shannon Matthews case in which a mother faked her daughter’s kidnap so she and her boyfriend could pocket the reward money.

The play features a character similar to Shannon’s mother Karen; a woman from a run-down estate who is vilified in the tabloid press for her crime.

The second, Every Child Matters, act looks at how social services deals with such cases and the mountain of similar events while being pushed and pulled by public opinion, the police and politicians.

Horsell Amateur Dramatic Society adapted both plays for drama festivals in Woking and Spelthorne, winning a host of awards.

Colin Orbaum, who directed both plays, persuaded Christopher, who has also written for Casualty, The Bill and Coronation Street as well as many radio plays, to write a third act, which ties up many of the loose ends from the other two.

The cast is led by Claire Racklyeft, who plays three characters; Debbie Hurst, the woman accused of exploiting her daughter for money; Joanne, the social worker on the case; and Patti, the social work manager.

Claire said she was looking forward to returning to the roles and also performing all three acts as a single play.

“This trilogy finally answers the questions and tells the story from each couple’s perspective forcing us to ask, ‘what is the truth and who is to blame’?”

Colin, who has worked hard over several years to bring the full play to the stage, said that This Repulsive Woman moved him and made a lasting impression.

“I especially appreciate the excellence of Christopher’s dialogue, which is witty and moving at the same time. It is a delight to work with. I also like the fact that he deals with themes of genuine social conscience.”

Burning the Witch will be performed at the Rhoda McGaw Theatre in Woking town centre from Thursday to Saturday at 7.30pm. Tickets cost £15 (concessions £13). Book at www.horsellads.com (no booking fee) or by calling 01483 808354.

For the full story get the 25 April edition of the News & Mail