Black Roses – The Killing of Sophie Lancaster: Stage adaptation to tell tragic story in Manchester

By John McDougall

An award-winning adaptation of a tragic real-life story of murdered goth Sophie Lancaster is coming to Manchester in September.

‘Black Roses: The Killing of Sophie Lancaster’ is the story of 20-year-old Sophie, who was fresh out of finishing her A-levels and was busy preparing to go to university.

Unfortunately, her life was cruelly cut short when she was beaten unconscious along with her boyfriend, Robert Maltby by a gang of five teenage boys in a park in Bacup, Rossendale, in August 2007.

The couple were the victims of an unprovoked attack because they were members of the goth subculture and dressed differently.

Miss Lancaster unfortunately never regained consciousness and her life-support machine was switched off 13 days after she was attacked.

Although Mr Maltby did recover from the attack, he was left with lasting brain damage.

The story of Sophie’s ordeal has been told via a collection of poems written by Simon Armitage, alongside the words of her mother, Sylvia, and won the BBC Audio and Music Best Speech Programme of the Year Award when it premiered on BBC Radio Four last year.

It has since been adapted for the stage and Coronation Street actresses Rachel Austin and Julie Hesmondhalgh will play the roles of Sophie and Sylvia Lancaster respectively.

The stage adaptation will show from September 19 to 29 at the Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester. 

Speaking to the Lancashire Telegraph in May , Sylvia said: “I think it has been chosen as a stage production because of Simon’s powerful poetry and Rachel Austin playing Sophie in the radio broadcast.

“I think it is brilliant that Julie is playing me as she understands our work and the importance of talking about tolerance and prejudice and the extremes it can lead to.”

Although aware of the attention surrounding the production, Sylvia has said she will not be attending it.

“I don’t need to watch it. I live it,” she added. “At the end of the day it’s all about the message.”

Tickets are priced £12 adults, £10 concessions, and £5 for under-13s and those interested should visit

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