The Poisoners’ Pact

By Cordelia Spence & Tim Lane    |   Spring & Autumn 2015


“Mob caps, music hall, murder, feisty, flighty females – poisoning has never been such fun.”

Basil Abbot (Plays International)

“An astonishing mix of song, dance, black comedy and pointed social commentary, with stellar performances by Joanna Swan, Kiera hawker and Cicely Long.

Carla Phillips (Eastern Daily Press)

“The play is brimming with ideas, many of which were developed with a thoughtfulness and imagination rarely seen in regional theatre.”

David Vass (Diss Corn Hall)


In 2015 the irrepressible Stuff of Dreams Theatre Company returned with the original play, ‘The Poisoners Pact’. Set in the 1830s in the supposedly peaceful village of Burnham Market in North Norfolk the play explored the story of Catherine Frary and Frances Billings, who were the last women to be hanged in Norfolk and whose execution was the last public, double execution in England. Frary and Billings were found guilty of several murders by administering arsenic to their hapless victims, this lethal substance was frequently disguised in dumplings.

Seen through the eyes of the two murderesses, the audience witnessed the dramatic events that led to their execution in 1835. Why did two married women, one a mother, carry out such horrific crimes? Who were the other players in this tragic game and was the ‘Witch of Wells’ more involved than contemporary accounts would have us believe?

Written by Cordelia Spence, the Artistic Director of ‘ Stuff of Dreams’ and one of the authors of ‘Love Left Hanging’, and Tim Lane, a Norwich based Actor, Teacher and Musician, ‘The Poisoners Pact’ was the company’s third original play and their fifth production.

Audiences delighted in an evening of murder, mayhem and recipes. After all it was “just good housekeeping”.

Cast & Crew

  • Kiara Hawker – Catherine Fray (Spring & Autumn Cast)
  • Jamie Rose Monk – Hannah Shorten & Elizabeth Southgate (Spring Cast)
  • Cicely Long – Hannah Shorten & Elizabeth Southgate (Autumn Cast)
  • Joanna Swan – Fanny Billings (Spring & Autumn Cast)
  • Cordelia Spence – Director
  • Declan Pattison – Technical Manager
  • Tim Lane – Composer & Musician
  • Pencil Bandit – Graphics & Poster
  • Dan Allen – Trailer
  • Amy Aldous – Research
  • Elizabeth Talbot – Fight Choreography
  • Julia Pasco Hook – Costume


Photography by Al Pulford