Knife-edge drama reflects current news headlines

It is rare to find a theatrical production that mirrors current media coverage, but that's exactly what is happening at Hebden Bridge Little Theatre
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A trip to Hebden Bridge Little Theatre to watch Shelagh Stephenson’s The Long Road could seem like an invitation to enter a dark land of pure make believe.

But the play, which explores the emotions of a family that has lost a member to a stabbing, is potentially much closer to home for most of us than we would like.

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There are now over 50,000 offences involving a sharp instrument recorded every year in England and Wales, and those at the wrong end of the blade are far from being the only victims.

Rachel Doyle-RichardsRachel Doyle-Richards
Rachel Doyle-Richards

As Stephenson’s masterpiece spells out, crime can have a devastating impact on the families of both the perpetrator and the victim.

The Long Road -- which was created in 2008 in collaboration with UK based charity The Forgiveness Project – portrays a family falling apart after losing 18-year-old Dan to a random stabbing by a drug addict.

John, Dan’s father, takes up whisky and jogging whilst Joe, his other son who had been with Dan during the incident but survived unscathed, believes his parents wished he had died instead.

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Mary, Dan’s mother, feels as though his killer Emma has taken up residence in their lives and is crippling them with her ghostly presence.

So, with the help of a mediator, Elizabeth, she decides to meet Emma in prison, hoping to gain insights that can prevent her son’s death from seeming simply a random act of pointless violence.

The plot has some uncanny similarities with high profile cases that have been in the news where victims’ relatives have found solace in meeting with their killers or those connected to them.

Rachel Doyle-Richards (see photo), who is directing the production of The Long Road at Hebden Bridge Little Theatre between April 8 and 13, says “No two cases are the same, and whether it be fact or fiction, we tend to left be in no doubt about the ripple effect on family members.

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“As with Mary in The Long Road, we have seen cases reported in the media of victims’ relatives proactively arranging potentially uncomfortable meetings to understand why a crime occurred because they don’t want to be left at home full of hate. They have tried to work through the grief by using the encounters to create something positive from an awful situation.”

“I chose this play because I was really interested in its idea of creating space to listen to those who have caused you harm,” Doyle-Richards continues,” and recent events have certainly shown how poignant art can become when it overlaps with current affairs.”

Tickets for The Long Road at Hebden Bridge Little Theatre (April 8 to 13) cost £11/ £9 and can be obtained online at