Reader, I Married Him: Reader, I Married Him

“Angela Barlow just oozes professionalism

… her talent and charisma at times threaten to swamp the whole theatre.

… quality theatre.”

Three Weeks: Reader, I Married Him ****

In both the writing and performing of this play, Angela Barlow has a thorough understanding of Brontë and plays her with astonishing conviction.

Barlow movingly brings to life the people who were Brontë’s inspiration.

… successful theatre as well as giving you a fascinating insight into Brontë’s life.****

The Scotsman: Reader, I Married Him ***

The wedding is on for the next morning but Charlotte is having second thoughts. Does she really want to marry Arthur Bell Nicholls? Well, yes, she is getting on and he is a thoroughly nice man, and there are not a lot of bachelors left on the Moors. But he is, she muses, “not at all what I imagined.”

As we know, what she imagined was the dark, brooding and impossibly romantic Rochester, who dominated and enthralled Jane Eyre. But he is only a character. She invented him. Or did she? We find out how writers work in Angela Barlow’s controlled and graceful unveiling of the novelist Charlotte Brontë. There was a man, and her unrequited passion for him was the raw material of Rochester. Some of his more unpleasant aspects came from her well loved, but bullying father. With her strong profile and gentle voice, that changes dramatically when she is doing other characters, Barlow creates an absorbing portrait of Charlotte Brontë. And yes, reader, she did marry him. And died in childbirth. Life is not as manageable as fiction.

The Farnham Herald: Shedding fresh light on the life of Charlotte Brontë

A near capacity audience sat spellbound by Miss Barlow’s performance, which traces Charlotte Brontë’s life in detail from her youngest years up to her marriage.

Indeed the play is set on the night before her marriage and unfolds in an easy and uncluttered series of flashback moments, effortlessly sketched out by this most consummate of performers.

Her skill, with a turn of the head or the apparently negligent use of a small prop, in peopling her stage with all the ancillary characters of Charlotte Brontë’s life was at times uncanny, and Miss Barlow’s timing and quiet energy totally succeeded in illuminating her subject.

Simply and gracefully she introduced us to her family, sisters, brother Branwell and her vicar father, endowing each with reality and truth.

Similarly we met her malignant schoolteacher, her publisher and her Belgian professor whom she always referred to as the Master. This was an exercise in composition and performance of the highest quality.

Gloucestershire Echo: Angela blends Charlotte with Jane

Reader, I Married Him, The Other Space, Everyman Theatre, Cheltenham:
A compelling experience.

… and such is her moving and convincing performance that one almost feels that the ghost of Charlotte has returned to tell her tale! Her outstanding achievement is testimony not only to Charlotte’s rightful place in the literary canon but also to Angela’s own perceptiveness and sensibilities as an actress of distinction.

The Stage: Reader, I Married Him

Her performance is subtle and engaging.

Wiltshire Gazette Reader, I did enjoy solo show: Reader, I Married Him”

Wharf Theatre, Devizes, Thursday June 19

… a delightful one-woman piece based on the life of Charlotte Brontë and interspersed with snippets from her most passionate creation and, some would say, alter ego, Jane Eyre.

An enthralled lunchtime audience at the Wharf last Thursday listened to every word as Ms Barlow brought to life in front of their very eyes not only Charlotte, but also her father, her publisher and her siblings, as well as Jane and her Mr Rochester.

Ms Barlow has performed her piece in the schoolroom next to Haworth Parsonage where Charlotte herself taught, lived and died. I think Charlotte’s ghost must have looked on in approval and admiration just as her audience in Devizes did.

Wells Festival of Literature: ” …a delight for long-time lovers of ‘Jane Eyre’, and an excellent introduction for the uninitiated.”

Millfield School: “…perceptively researched and sensitively portrayed.”

After Chekhov:

Theatre Royal, Bath: “A tour de force. A wonderfully entertaining and atmospheric peep behind the scenes of Chekhov’s life”

The Stage: After Chekhov

immensely amusing and convincing.

The Scotsman: After Chekhov *****

Angela Barlow… a gifted actress

… a consummate professional.

… the style is stripped back and fluid.

…Chekhov would be proud.

Metro: After Chekhov ***

… an enchanting hour

… an atmospheric show

… Barlow delivers a performance with plenty of charisma and charm.

Three Weeks: After Chekhov ****

Angela Barlow plays Olga Knipper-Chekhova in an intimate and sultry performance as by re-enacting scenes from his plays and conversations she had with her husband, she gives us a deep insight into the life and mind of the real man. The stories she tells also capture the atmosphere of the Muscovite theatre and social life during Chekhov’s times and the lifestyle of the actors themselves. Her elaborate costume and the set décor contribute to a feeling of being taken back to early 20th century Russia; this is an intense exploration of Chekhov’s life, works and love.

Edinburgh Review: After Chekhov ****

With a lively, sparkling spirit Barlow captures Olga’s strength of character, her fluctuating feelings and her undying passion for the theatre.


I first saw the play ‘After Chekhov’, researched, written and performed by Angela Barlow, at the Theatre Royal, Bath. I knew at once that we had to try and engage her for the forthcoming Wells Festival of Literature and we were lucky enough to do so.It is April 1914 and Olga Knipper, the actress widow of Anton Chekhov, arrives early at the theatre in preparation for a performance of The Cherry Orchard. For an hour, she entrances us with a personal history of the Russian theatre of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, her relationship with Chekhov and her encounters with Stanislavski and other luminaries of the period.

Angela Barlow’s performance is beautifully judged. With great delicacy, as if she were turning a many-faceted jewel first this way, then that, in the light, she gradually reveals a woman who was spirited, passionate and complex, committed both to a great artist and also to her art, with all the tensions and fulfilments such a dual loyalty engenders. As she reflects on her life, she engages her audience totally in her shifting moods: sometimes she is confiding and coquettish, sometimes reflective and introspective; light-heartedly entertaining and impishly humorous one moment, full of poignant pathos the next. She recreates, as she reflects, the characters who have peopled her life, and does so with nothing more than hints – a look, a cough, a gesture – rather than crude impersonation. It is all subtly and elegantly achieved.

‘After Chekhov’ is a delight: Angela Barlow’s writing is witty, entertaining and moving; her memorable performance brings to vibrant life a woman of insight, courage, humour and self-knowledge.

AFTER CHEKHOV, Misha Williams:

‘After Chekhov’ is a brilliant piece of dramatised historical biography. It magically opens the door to an empty Russian theatre in 1914. Chekhov’s famous actress widow arrives ahead of the company and for a compelling hour confides to us, the audience, a wealth of fascinating detail about Chekhov and herself.

I am usually turned off by historical one-person shows. An actor coming onstage and saying “Good evening, my name is Napoleon Bonaparte” sends me into stitches. So I was very surprised and moved by this unique and unusual piece and completely won over by Angela Barlow’s immense sensitivity and artistic taste in making it work so well.

The writing is direct and simple and illuminates Chekhov’s and Olga’s world effortlessly. We get unusual insights into such giants of theatre as Stanislavsky and Nemirovich Danchenko through the refreshing and down to earth view of an actress. But the stream of consciousness monologue is always deeply human and utterly believable. This is quite an achievement, because Russians are rather different from the British and translating language and transferring emotions from one idiom to another cannot be easy. But it works here very well. Angela Barlow meticulously conjures up period detail and period feelings. There is in ‘After Chekhov’ what Peter Brook calls “the temperature of the time”; that quality in a stage production with which an actor and director not only show how a historic period looked but more importantly how it felt!

So Angela Barlow’s production and performance of ‘After Chekhov’ is a uniquely rewarding experience for those who know about the subject and for those who know nothing at all. I believe Chekhov and his colleagues created believable and realistic acting as we know it today, made film acting naturalistic and compelling by means of their ‘Method’, and perhaps, by making drama and its characters for the first time seem everyday, were the fathers of modern TV soaps. Everyone should know about Chekhov and his devoted wife, Olga.

Misha Williams is a writer and award-winning screen and stage director: Laurence Olivier’s assistant director at the National Theatre; artistic director of Hampstead’s New End Theatre and the Bankside Globe Playhouse; best TV film award at Cannes.

Cokethorpe School: ” ….a gem….skillfully woven together….transitions between the various parts and recalled episodes seamless…. I could not but admire this very much.”

Jane Austen and Character: an actor’s view:

Jane Austen Society of North America 2010 Annual Conference: A perfect mixture of information and entertainment, setting the tone for the start of our conference.

Jane Austen Society of Washington DC: A pleasure to hear Angela’s insightful remarks about Austen’s creation of character.

Susannah Fullerton, President, Jane Austen Society of Australia: Angela Barlow, in her sensitive presentation, examined the challenges and delights an actor has when trying to capture the essence of a Jane Austen character and then taking that character from the pages of the novel to the medium of the stage.

This insightful commentary was interspersed with dramatic examples from a wonderful selection of Jane Austen characters, as Angela illustrated her points by acting out dialogues or speeches from the novels.

One moment she was a timid and grateful Fanny Price, the next she was Mrs Elton in full flight about Maple Grove and the Sucklings. She was as convincing acting Lady Catherine de Bourgh as she was when she played Mrs Bennet. The performance was a delightful mixture of humour and pathos, wit and satire. Angela Barlow is a highly accomplished actress.

I have great pleasure in recommending Jane Austen: An Actor’s View to any group which enjoys the novels of Jane Austen, to literature festivals, to school students and teachers, and to Jane Austen societies around the world.

Marilyn Joice, Jane Austen Society, Northern Branch, UK: [In Jane Austen & Character: An Actor’s View] Miss Barlow gave us a real insight into Jane Austen’s genius (and her own) and ensured the audience would never read Mrs Elton in the same way again.

The presentation (I could, with justification, call it the performance) ended with an extract from Pride and Prejudice, as Lizzie tells her mother of her engagement to Darcy, a fitting conclusion to a wonderful, lively afternoon!

One minute we were watching the young and healthy Catherine Morland bouncing around, and the next the aged, valetudinarian Mr Woodhouse was before our eyes. Jane Austen characters were leaping off the page: Catherine and Isabella, Mrs Bennet and Miss Bates, Mr Bennet and Mrs Norris appeared with a slight change in posture, a shift in facial expression, a voice rising or falling, nasal or crystal clear. Never has an hour passed so quickly, nor the loss of a sunny afternoon been so little lamented!

Stephen Lawrence, Chief Executive, Chawton House Library: During the summer of 2009 Chawton House Library organised a programme of events to celebrate the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s taking up residence in the village of Chawton.

As part of these activities Angela Barlow delivered a wonderful dramatised talk on Jane Austen and Character which vibrantly and successfully brought to life many individuals from the novels. An accomplished actor with a wide range of TV, film and theatre credits to her name, Angela explored, most effectively, the subtle ways in which Austen may have worked on her creations.

All in all it made for a terrific evening of entertainment which was enjoyed by a packed house and which I wholeheartedly recommend to anyone with even a passing interest in Jane Austen.