It is a dramatisation of Melvyn Bragg's book of the same name, which in turn is based on the true story of Mary Robinson, an Inn Keeper's daughter at the turn of the nineteenth century renowned for her beauty, who was courted and married by an aristocrat, who later turned out to be an imposter and a serial bigamist. Bragg writes in the programme that he wanted to pay "homeage to the great Victorian novels", when writing the book, and there was certainly feeling along similar lines to stories such as Jane Eyre or Wuthering Heights.
Inspite (or maybe in reaction to?) the bad review he got in the Guardian, Jonathan Keeble did actually put a lot of feeling into the role of John Hatfield and you did get a feeling of remorse. Rebecca Pownall was really sweet as Mary and you just wanted to run onto the stage and give her a hug, especially when all the truth came out.
Howard Chadwick's Newton, really stole the show for me. He managed to make the character immensely sinister and threatening, and it put across the power he needed over Hatfield in order to carry the story inspite of the fact that Chadwick was of considerably shorter stature then Keeble.
Tim Barker looked very familiar, although I'm not entirely sure what I recognise him from. According to IMDB he was in Dark Season (was that really as long ago as 1991? Gosh!) and I can see him in it now, but I'm sure I've seen him in something older then he was then, but younger than he is now and I'm not sure what.
In short I really enjoyed it, and it had the added benefit of being set around lots of very familiar places.
It's currently showing at The Theatre by the Lake until 18 April 2009, but there were very few tickets left when I bought mine.