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Dame Nature: The Magnificent Bearded Lady at Wilton’s Music Hall

Moisturise. Oil. Comb. Repeat… SEEN has always been fascinated (and moved) by the phenomenon of the Bearded Lady. Sheltered and sequestered from mainstream society, how does a modern bearded lady fit in, now that Conchita Wurst has won the Eurovision Song Contest?


Now’s our chance to find out, as we join Dame Nature on her journey of self-discovery, as she realises the disturbing truth behind her marriage and uncovers the exploitation that has trapped her for decades. Behind this bearded lady there’s a bearded lady.

From the 10th – 14th January 2017, Dame Nature: The Magnificent Bearded Lady will be on at Wilton’s Music Hall, which, if you didn’t know, is the oldest grand music hall in the world, and a unique setting for the world-class theatre, cabaret and educational projects that it supports.


Dame Nature is a performing bearded lady. She’s been touring Britain for 23 years with her husband. Their show was once the 8th Wonder of East Anglia but in 2016, tastes have changed and bookings are thin on the ground. The highlight of their season is the second largest pub function room in the South East. Her husband won’t let her out – no one gets to see the show for free. So she spends her time alone practising new material, re-reading her collection of women’s mags and considering the merits of Phil Collins’ solo work. But tonight, her husband is ill, and for the very first time she must perform the show alone. The stage is set for Dame Nature to discover the truth.


A dark and off-kilter piece of theatre, creator Tim Bell was inspired by the extraordinary tale of Victorian bearded ladies, who led sheltered and isolated lives, often married to the circus owner and forbidden from socialising with the audience and other performers.

Fresh from a hit run at Edinburgh festival and produced by Bristol Old Vic Ferment, this is a hilarious yet heartfelt play for bearded and non-bearded audiences alike. Directed by Laurence Cook and created and starring Tim Bell (Shanty Theatre Company), who is himself the great-grandson of a music hall performer, this production is a darkly comic look at gender and coercive relationships – performed by a man in a dress.

Wilton’s Music Hall
1 Graces Alley
E1 8JB


Photographer Jack Offord