Penelope Keith
Amanda Root   Oliver Ford Davies 

The Chalk Garden

By Enid Bagnold 

Festival Theatre
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Penelope Keith commands the stage

i newspaper

Penelope Keith is magnificent as Mrs St Maugham in this eccentric mix of thriller and country-house comedy

The Times

Deliciously funny

The Argus

Nothing will grow for eccentric, high-born Mrs St Maugham in the dry earth of her once grand Sussex garden. Indoors, the situation is even worse. Her wild and damaged granddaughter, sixteen-year-old Laurel, sets fires and throws tantrums.

When the enigmatic Miss Madrigal arrives to take up the post of Laurel’s companion, the household is disconcerted by her evasive oddity. Where has she come from, and why does she refuse to speak about her past?

Both singular comedy and haunting mystery, this startling insight into mother-daughter relationships is regarded as one of the twentieth century’s most remarkable plays. The author of many books and dramas, Enid Bagnold is still best known for her 1935 novel, National Velvet.

Penelope Keith makes a welcome return to Chichester to play Mrs St Maugham. Her roles here encompass The Apple Cart, The Merry Wives of Windsor, The Way of the World, Entertaining Angels and Mrs Pat.

Amanda Root, returning to Chichester following The Deep Blue Sea (2011), plays Miss Madrigal; Oliver Ford Davies, who appeared in Goodnight Mister Tom (2011), makes his Festival debut.

Alan Strachan directed Entertaining Angels (2006) and Mrs Pat (2015) with Penelope Keith at Chichester; his many West End productions range from plays by Coward and Ayckbourn to Tennessee Williams and Shakespeare.

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Our programmes are designed to be the perfect insightful companion to the production. This programme for The Chalk Garden includes a biographical article about Enid Bagnold written by Anne Sebba, in addition to rehearsal photography, biographies, events and news from the Theatre.

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Prologue tickets available now!



Penelope Keith commands the stage with a maturing grace and warmth. Oliver Ford Davies as a visiting judge is always a joy with his beautifully rounded and fruity delivery. Amanda Root divines with simple perfection the complex role of Miss Madrigal. Designer Simon Higlett's detailed portrait of the drawing room and garden is a masterpiece, and that lavish investment in quality permeates every sentence.

i newspaper

Penelope Keith is magnificent as Mrs St Maugham in this eccentric mix of thriller and country-house comedy.

The Times

Penelope Keith is deliciously funny in her eccentricity and is blessed with an abundance of bon mots worthy of Wilde.

The Argus

Penelope Keith is superb in a beautifully-designed revival of Enid Bagnold’s play.

The Stage

Designer Simon Higlett gives us one of his finest sets ever with its detail and faded gentility – the perfect platform for Penelope Keith and Amanda Root to give superlative performances.

Chichester Observer

Cast & Creatives


Cast List

Penelope Keith

Mrs St Maugham

Amanda Root

Miss Madrigal

Oliver Ford Davies

The Judge

Donna Berlin


Matthew Cottle


Sarah Crowden

Third Lady

Emma Curtis


Caroline Harker


Victoria Willing

Little Lady

Creative Team

Cast List

Alan Strachan


Simon Higlett


Natasha Chivers

Lighting Designer

Catherine Jayes


Emma Laxton

Sound Designer

Charlotte Sutton

Casting Director



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Running Time
2 hours and 5 minutes including one interval