Barn Theatre Club presents

Ben Hur by Patrick Barlow

Ben Hur

By Patrick Barlow
Based on the novel by General Lew Wallace
Directed by Keith Thompson
4th – 12th February 2022 at 8:00pm in the Main Theatre
Matinee on February 12th at 2:30pm

Duration: 2hrs Approximately (including two interval)

A 103% bona fide chariot race. An authentic sea battle with real water. An unexpurgated Roman orgy (suitable for all ages). Ben Hur is the epic to stir your very soul.

A hilarious ancient Roman epic to stir your very soul.

Adapted from Lew Wallace’s celebrated 19th-century tome Ben Hur by a Theatre Collective battling against the odds to put the play on. It’s a battle of two worlds – the colossus of the Roman Empire and the over-eager paucity of the players. Garbled mock-classical language, and a dangerous misbelief shared by many actors that whatever happens, if they keep going, the audience won’t notice. A small cast play 29 parts. The author Patrick Barlow is celebrated for his two-man theatre company The National Theatre of Brent and his award-winning adaptation of The 39 Steps, plus The Arts and How They Was Done, and other comedy epics. First presented at The Watermill Theatre in 2012 and later at The Tricycle Theatre.

The original Ben Hur – A Tale of the Christ, was written in 1880 by illustrious American Civil War veteran General Lew Wallace and has never been out of print. As a play it played on Broadway in 1899 and has been filmed several times, in 1907, 1925, 1959, 2003 and 2017.

The 1959 film version with Charlton Heston had a budget of $15 million, a cast of 50,000 extras and 365 speaking parts. We’re not afraid of the challenge!

Part of the Barn’s 2021-2022 Season.


You do not have to be a Barn member to audition for this production!

We always look forward to welcoming new members and you only need to become a member once you get cast in the production or join the Creative Team. Thank you for helping to keep the Barn a vibrant, exciting and creative place!

Audition dates, times and venues

Tuesday 21st September at 7:45 pm in Room 1
Sunday 19th September at 10:30 am in Room 1

In this version by Patrick Barlow, author of The 39 Steps, four actors take on the might of the Roman Empire. The greatest novel ever penned is brought to the stage by a towering team turning the theatre into one of the most authentic depictions of Ancient Rome ever seen.

Stunning combat, a 100% bona fide chariot race, an authentic sea battle (with real water) and a decadent and unexpurgated Roman orgy (suitable for all ages).

I saw the professional production of Ben Hur, with four actors (3M,1F), and I adjudicated an amateur effort that used seven actors. As written, the parts are distributed as follows, with suggested ages for the characters:

Actor 1 plays:

Judah Ben Hur 30, Melchior (one of the Three Kings) 70-100, and a Nubian Dancer 18.

Actor 2 (F) plays:

Mary 20-50, Tirzah 16, Esther 24, Slave 100, Nubian Dancer 18, Catalinya (a beautiful girl) 20, Naboth 16, Mrs Pilate 40.

Actor 3 plays:

Messala (the villain) 30, Jesus 30, Caspar over 70, Archangel Gabriel 30, Galley Captain 50, Roman Captain 30, Galley Slave 20, Nubian dancer 18, Valentinyo (heartthrob) 20.

Actor 4 plays:

Balthasar over 70, Sarah (Jewish mother) 60, Centurion / Slave Driver 50, Quintus Arrius (Roman Governor) 60, Pontius Pilate 60.

There are some moments when an actor will be playing more than one part on stage at the same time. There is a fast-moving script (not in Classical Latin or Hebrew). The audience has to be persuaded to play Galley Slaves (from their seats). Some members of the stage crew will make fleeting appearances.

The author notes that the whole show must be performed with the utmost seriousness, as if performing Shakespeare or Aeschylus. The company don’t know it’s funny. If anything goes wrong (and by golly, does it?) they keep going, and no one is fazed for a moment. Great opportunities to be creative and have fun.

Books from Keith Thompson: 01438 840553 or [email protected]

Audition dates, times and venues

Tuesday 21st September at 7:45 pm in Room 1
Sunday 19th September at 10:30 am in Room 1


Directed by
Keith Thompson


A hilarious ancient Roman epic to stir your very soul.

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