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The Owl Service

Poster for 'The Owl Service' adapted by Anita Sullivan
Samantha Robinson and Oliver Wood in The Owl Service

Alan Garner's novel has stage premiere


Stage play co-written by Anita Sullivan and David Prescott.


The Owl Service was published in 1967 and won the Guardian Award and the Carnegie Medal. In 1969 Granada turned it into an iconic TV serial.

In the heavy summer heat of a remote Welsh Valley, three teenagers awake an ancient myth from The Mabinogion. Scratching in the roof  leads to the discovery of a curious dinner service. Alison becomes obsessed with the strange pattern on the plates and the boys start to fight for her attention. As myth becomes reality and past becomes present, the three are driven to play out a brutal tale of betrayal and revenge. A power is loose: the owls are hunting.

The adaptation was commissioned by Plymouth Theatre Royal and  staged at the Drum Theatre July 2004.


Directed by Greg Banks, designed by Claire Lyth. Live music including harp and choral singing composed by Thomas Johnson.

Cast of 'The Owl Service' on set

"As Welsh as laver bread, this production skillfully sucks us, like a vortex, into the spell of the all-pervading legend the Mabinogion. From the start the company conjures a drama of cliff-hanger proportions as circumstances throw three teenagers together in a remote Welsh valley. Here simmering tension is brought teasingly to the boil as myth begins to eclipse reality. In the heat of high summer, punctuated with dramatic thunderstorms, secrets of the past are poised to consume the present. In transferring it from page to stage, adaptors Anita Sullivan and David Prescott have cleverly distilled the essence of Alan Garner's classic sixties novel, targeting a new youthful audience... this stage premiere gives the story a fresh, dynamic lease of life." Roger Malone, The Stage

"...Squeezes every shiver of spooky atmosphere from the tale. There are some terrific, almost gothic moments of pure tension... " Lyn Gardner, The Guardian

"...Creepy, captivating and even a little funny in places... we would recommend it to older children" Natalie and Rosie Soper (ages 15 and 13) for BBC Online

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