The Barn Theatre, Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire

Jo Davies

Jo participated in 45 productions at the Barn.

We received the sad news of the death of Jo in November. The first record we have of Jo’s appearance is as Elvira in Mervyn Lloyd’s production of Blithe Spirit in 1974 and, if my memory serves me, she made her first appearance being flown on to the Barn stage — a feat of stagecraft rarely accomplished on our low-ceilinged performance space. From then until 2004 Jo appeared in many high-profile roles. Later in 1974 she played Cordelia in Hugh Croydon’s King Lear and then appeared almost every season. Among many roles in 1977 she was in Turn of the Screw; in 1978 Old Times; in 1979 Night of the Iguana; and in 1981 The Gingerbread Lady. After Genet’s The Balcony in 1981 she turned to directing with Lilian Hellman’s controversial play The Children’s Hour. (1983).

Jo tended to audition for the more intellectually demanding roles such as in Travesties, directed by Michael McArdle, in 1985 and the Nurse in Romeo and Juliet in the same year, followed in 1986 by a memorable performance as Queen Elizabeth I in Vivat, Vivat, Regina. These were followed by Mistress Overdone in Measure for Measure (1986); Mrs. Malapropin The Rivals (1988); and the difficult portrayal of the great actress Sarah Bernhardt in After the Lions (1989). A superb Dotty Otley, coping with stray sardines, followed in Noises Off (1990), and in 1991 she was awarded a Best Actress trophy (jointly with Jan Sayer) at the Luton Festival for her performance in Hugh Croydon’s direction of Tennessee Williams’s one-acter, A Perfect Analysis Given by a Parrot.

As the harridan wife in A Little Hotel on the Side she essayed French farce (1992), and also appeared in the enigmatic Top Girls (1993) and Glyn Maxwell’s two plays at the Barn, Broken Journey (1996) and Anyroad (2000).

Her final appearance was in the benefit performance of The Vagina Monologues, the highly successful ‘anti- violence against women and children’ one-night event in 2004, directed by Sylvia Pepper as part of the worldwide campaign in 2004, and superbly acted by a cast of three. At various times Jo had worked backstage and in the box office, and had served on Council for three years.

Jo was a quiet, friendly and studious personality, with a soft deep voice often accompanied by a mischievous sparkle in her eyes, but she had a very powerful stage personality, and one of the finest actresses we have had the privilege of working with.

We will miss her.



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Part 1, 18th Jan 8pm

Part 2, 19th Jan 8pm

Parts 1+2 20th Jan 2.30pm

Part 1, 23rd Jan 8pm

Part 2, 24th Jan 8pm

Part 1, 25th Jan 8pm

Part 2, 26th Jan 8pm

Part 1, 27th Jan 2.30pm

Part 2,  27th Jan 8pm