A POETRY play which was given life by The Courtyard’s Write On Festival last year is now on a national tour and will return to Hereford for a night at the Chapel Arts Centre, RNCB, on Friday, October 7.

The Magnetic Diaries by Sarah James is an innovative reworking of Gustave Flaubert’s Madame Bovary in a contemporary English setting and was Highly Recommended by critics at this year's Edinburgh Fringe.

Reviewers described the show as “intensely moving” and the poetry as “divine. Rich, complex, visual, flowing and tumbling out with power and aliveness…” One journalist wrote that the piece ‘‘shows how wondrous and creative life can be despite living with depression…”

The troubled, adulterous heroine, Emma Bailey, battles with a stifling middle-class lifestyle, unattainable fantasies and untreatable depression – pushing her life and marriage to the brink. Her journey of intense highs and lows includes a course of treatment in a pioneering brain therapy, Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation.

Last year, The Courtyard’s new-writing judges were impressed by the script for the one-woman show and helped Sarah, a first-time playwright, find a theatre team to bring the script to the stage.

"We were blown away by the haunting subject material and rich, lyrical prose," comments Karen Curry, the Write On Chair, "and felt it deserved a strong actor and director to do it justice. So we used our connections and invited locally based actress Vey Straker and Malvern-based Reaction Theatre Makers director Tiffany Hosking to take this beautiful play about depression and bring it to life, which they did."

When the show’s team then needed to make a fundraising film last year, to take the show on tour, The Chapel Arts Centre provided a venue, and a host of other local organisations and individuals helped out, such as film director Nathan Williams, The Rural Media Company, the Sealegs Puppet Theatre, local actor Alex Evans and lighting technician David Hewitt.

The funding bids to the Arts Council England, the Elmley Foundation and Worcestershire Council were successful and as a result the show has benefited from professional choreographer Lizzie Giraudeu and a musical score by competition-winning composer Joanna Karsellis. The sponsored tour has included Ledbury Poetry Festival, Worcestershire Literary Festival and Bristol Poetry Festival and is still to tour Birmingham, Malvern and London in October.

Vey Straker, who plays Emma Bailey, says, "This has been a wonderful opportunity for the whole team, and I am well aware that it would never have been possible without the enthusiastic support and collaboration of Herefordshire’s theatre and media talent. We’re delighted to be bringing it back to Hereford for the students of the Royal National College as well as the wider public to enjoy."

The Magnetic Diaries is at The Chapel Arts Centre, RNCB, on Friday, October 7 at 7.30pm. To reserve, call 01432 376320 or book online at thechapelarts.co.uk. Tickets will also be available on the door.