The past is littered with magnificent women who deserve to be remembered and Anna Brassey is one of them: curator, collector, philanthropist, photographer, founder member of St John’s Ambulance and inveterate traveller. Her husband Thomas was Liberal MP for Hastings and together, with their young family, they sailed the world in the 1870s aboard a steam-assisted yacht. They would travel with over 40 aboard, family, friends and staff – much to the disapproval of the local gentry who felt that it was verging on abuse to take impressionable children off around the world to meet, and perhaps be eaten by, "savages" and "heathens". But Anna, or Annie as she liked to be called, couldn’t care less. What better education for a child than “real life immersion”? Her motto was “often in danger, never afraid” and clearly there was adventure enough to fill her diaries with astonishing, lively description. To her surprise, the books that she wrote were wildly popular and she became famous as a travel writer.

The past is littered with magnificent women who deserve to be remembered and Anna Brassey is one of them

Told from the points of view of Anna and her servant Bessie, this is a tale of uncompromising curiosity. In a world where the aristocracy “consume and exploit”, Annie wanted to use her resources to explore and describe “God’s manifestation of perfection – this world!” She knew she was privileged and wanted to give something back, both by recording the wider world and, more practically, by helping to set up St John’s Ambulance. Interestingly, Anna wasn’t bothered about suffrage. She knew that women were equal to men. It didn’t occur to her that it could be otherwise. It was just that some men didn’t think so. Anna is an ensemble piece played by a cast of five. There are also puppets, particularly a dog and a child – the ‘ghost’ of Sunbeam, Annie’s daughter who died of scarlet fever aged four, who silently and poignantly witnesses her life and her deteriorating health. The set changes are rather complex but the puppets cleverly help to hold our attention while the stage is changed from land to sea and back again.

Anna Brassey's life remains an inspiration, and this is an enjoyable play whose strength lies in its content - the retelling of Annie's story.

Reviews by Sebastian Beaumont

The Warren: Theatre Box

The Promised Land

Brighton Spiegeltent: Bosco

Jack Cray: The Fittest Guy on the Street

Rialto Theatre



Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. We don't want your money to support a hack's bar bill at Abattoir, but if you have a pound or two spare, we really encourage you to support a good cause. If this review has either helped you discover a gem or avoid a turkey, consider doing some good that will really make a difference.

You can donate to the charity of your choice, but if you're looking for inspiration, there are three charities we really like.

Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
Donate to Mama Biashara now

Theatre MAD
The Make A Difference Trust fights HIV & AIDS one stage at a time. Their UK and International grant-making strategy is based on five criteria that raise awareness, educate, and provide care and support for the most vulnerable in society. A host of fundraising events, including Bucket Collections, Late Night Cabarets, West End Eurovision, West End Bares and A West End Christmas continue to raise funds for projects both in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Donate to Theatre MAD now

Acting For Others
Acting for Others provides financial and emotional support to all theatre workers in times of need through the 14 member charities. During the COVID-19 crisis Acting for Others have raised over £1.7m to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
Donate to Acting For Others now



The Blurb

Written and directed by Heather Alexander. "Oft in danger, never afraid". This was Anna Brassey’s life motto as she travelled the world on a Victorian steam clipper. Her journal, 'A Voyage in the Sunbeam' made her experiences famous and established her as a popular Victorian writer. But who was the very private woman behind the public image? Puppetry, drama, song and film contribute to revealing how Anna and her servant, Bessie, survive as they negotiate prejudice and personal tragedy. Anna Brassey: mother, explorer, curator, campaigner, pioneer - a woman ahead of her time.

Most Popular See More

Frozen the Musical

From £36.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Mamma Mia!

From £15.00

More Info

Find Tickets


From £25.00

More Info

Find Tickets

The Book of Mormon

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Back to the Future - The Musical

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

The Phantom of the Opera

From £30.00

More Info

Find Tickets