Announcing GRIM BRENDA by Ross Willis, developed with and directed by Ned Bennett

Announcing a new play from award winning playwright Ross Willis, developed with and Directed by Ned Bennett. An Orange Tree and Francesca Moody Productions co-production which marks the final show in Paul Miller’s outgoing season as Artistic Director of the Orange Tree Theatre. 

by Ross Willis

Developed with and directed by Ned Bennett

14 February – 18 March 2023

Brenda hasn’t been touched in 500 years, let alone asked how she is.  

It’s tough being the Angel of Death. 

Blessed with a secret talent for loneliness. It’s just settled in her soul without her even noticing.  

The phone doesn’t ring. The house is empty. There’s nobody to wait up for. But news of a missing soul is about to trigger an epic wild adventure that will teach her many things about family life, appropriate work-place relationships, and humanity.  

An extraordinary play soaked in myth and magic, full of laughter with a beating and bruised heart. Grim Brenda brings together award-winning playwright Ross Willis and director Ned Bennett for a stunning exploration of love, loss, and life.  

Ross Willis is a member of the OT Writer’s Collective. His award-winning debut play Wolfie premièred to critical acclaim at the Theatre503 in March 2019 directed by Lisa Spirling. The play won the Best New Play award at both the Writers’ Guild Awards and the Off-West End Awards 2020 and was nominated for Best Writer at the Stage Debut Awards and Most Promising Playwright at the Evening Standard Theatre Awards. His second play, Wonder Boy, premièred at the Bristol Old Vic in spring 2022 directed by Sally Cookson. He is writing new plays for the Royal Court Theatre, Almeida Theatre, Soho Theatre, English Touring Theatre, Paines Plough and Audible. He was awarded a writing fellowship by the Royal Court Theatre and TV producers Kudos to develop a script for television and in 2019 he was awarded a Channel 4 Playwright Scheme bursary with an attachment at the Orange Tree Theatre where he developed Grim Brenda. He is currently an Associate Artist of Pentabus Theatre and has previously been on attachment at the Bristol Old Vic, writer-in-residence at Theatre Clwyd, a member of Tamasha Playwrights Group, Soho Theatre Writer’s Lab and the BBC Writersroom Writers’ Access Group.

Ned Bennett is a theatre director who trained at the Royal Court, the National Theatre and LAMDA. His practice extends to theatre in the criminal justice system, working with youth theatres and teaching. He returns to the Orange Tree following Pomona and An Octoroon, both which transferred to the National Theatre, and for which Ned was awarded the Off West End Award for Best Director.

His other theatre credits include Dick Whittington (National Theatre), The Twits (Unicorn Theatre), Unprecedented (Headlong), 1st Luv (The Big House), Equus (Stratford East / UK Tour / Trafalgar Studios. WINNER: UK Theatre Award for Best Play Revival, OFFIE for Best Director), Victoria’s Knickers (National Youth Theatre / Soho Theatre), Baddies (Synergy Theatre), Buggy Baby (The Yard), Brixton Rock (The Big House), Yen (Royal Exchange / Royal Court. WINNER: UKT Award for Best Director, jointly with Pomona).