The Land of Might-Have-Been

Fri 21 July 2023

Inspired by Vera Brittain's early life with music by Ivor Novello


Brought together in a summer of love, torn apart by war,

only one would survive to tell their story.

Buxton International Festival and Norwich Theatre are delighted to present the world premiere of The Land of Might-Have-Been.  This new musical is written by Michael Williams, co-creator of the UK Theatre Award winning opera Georgiana.  

Return to the halcyon days of that long-ago perfect summer where ragtime was sweeping through every ballroom; where debutante balls were the Tinder of today 1000 loans online and chaperones were the curse of every young woman in love; where the call of King and Country stirred the imagination of young men everywhere and the power of love kept hope alive in the darkest of times.

The Land of Might-Have-Been is built around the songs of Ivor Novello and tells a story loosely based on the lives of Vera and Edward Brittain before and during the First World War. The story follows Vera and Roland, and Edward and Bobbie
who unexpectedly fall in love over a long, hot summer in Buxton in 1914. The war in Europe shatters all their hopes and dreams but compels Vera into a life-long campaign for peace and equality.

Iain Farrington’s new orchestral arrangement of songs like My Dearest Dear, Waltz of My Heart, My Life Belongs To You and Why Is There Ever Goodbye captures Ivor Novello’s extraordinary gift of melody and harmony.

Kimberley Sykes, Royal Shakespeare Company director, brings her classic theatre experience to the rehearsal room to deliver an elegant, sharply focused production.


Audrey Brisson Vera Brittain
Alexander Knox
Roland Leighton
George Arvidson
Edward Brittain
Kit Esuruoso
Stuart Pendred
Arthur Brittain
Bernadine Pritchett
 Edith Brittain


Creatives Team

Michael Williams Book and Lyrics
Adrian Kelly Artistic Director
Kimberley Sykes Director
Iwan Davies Conductor
Iain Farrington Music arranged with additional composition
Nicky Shaw Set and Costume Designer

Michela Meazza Choreographer
Jake Wiltshire Lighting Designer

Andrew Lynford Casting Director

Declan Matwij Sound Designer

Northern Chamber Orchestra


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