'When I have need of something, I am a lot like other people; I take it.’

Is it worth the risk when you have everything to gain and nothing to lose? What would you do?

It is 1927 and Alice Diamond, former leader of the 40 Elephants; Britain’s first female crime syndicate, has just been released from prison and is ready to entertain an audience with the true tales of the gang’s exploits.

Follow the rise and fall of Britain's most notorious girl gang; their rules, raids, consequences and betrayals, as they struggle to escape the world they were born into, gaining wealth and fame by whatever means necessary.

Glamour, violence, feisty female gangs, music and mayhem…you better be ready for the 40 Elephants!

40 Elephants began development as part of the Exeter Northcott Artist Futures programme in 2022, performing a short 20 minute version at scratch event 'The Greenhouse Festival' at Exeter Barnfield Theatre. Since then it has gone through further development with an R&D provided by the Exeter Phoenix artist support scheme, partnering with the Northcott Theatre and other Exeter based venues. We are delighted to announce that we have been given a grant by Arts Council England to further develop the work, launching a small tour in February/March 2024 to Exeter Barnfield Theatre, Seaton Gateway Theatre and Front Room Theatre Western-Super-Mare.

40 Elephants is a piece of actor-musician theatre. Set in a 1920s Music Hall, the troupe of performers dramatize the true stories of The 40 Elephant Gang, Britain's first female crime syndicate. Focusing on the rise and fall of Alice Diamond the gang's longest running leader, and her second in command Maggie Hughes; the piece explores the struggles of women born into poverty in the early 20th century and the dangerous methods they took to escape.


Book, Lyrics and Music by: Lizi Bennett

Arranged by: Lizi Bennett, Jon Dyer and Company

Vocal Harmonies by Emily Howard and Lizi Bennett

Director: Lucy Betts

Producer: Marina O'Shea

Production Manager: Lizi Bennett

Lighting Design: Sonny Evans

Tech Support: Jay Seldon


Jo trained in Actor-Musicianship at Rose Bruford College.

Acting credits include: A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Vienna’s English Theatre); Rapunzel & The Rascal Prince (The Production Exchange); Where Is Peter Rabbit? (Theatre Royal Haymarket & International Tour);The Snow Dragon & Alice In Wonderland (Derby Theatre); Dick Whittington (Theatre Royal Winchester); Tiddler & Other Terrific Tales (Freckle); The Tempest, Henny Penny, Little Red Riding Hood (The Garage); Viper Squad (CtrlAltRepeat); Robin Hood (Oddsocks); The Scarecrow’s Wedding (Scamp Theatre); A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Red Rose Chain); Gatsby (Union Theatre); Princess & The Pea (Tutti Frutti/York Theatre Royal)

Musical Direction credits include: Red Riding Hood, The Tempest (The Garage); Ministry of Lesbian Affairs (Soho Theatre)


Elisabeth is an Actor-Musician who has recently returned to Exeter after studying for an MA at Rose Bruford College. As well as a performer Elisabeth is a seasoned writer, facilitator and prop maker and has worked regularly with many theatre companies in the South West; Le Navet Bete, Exeter Northcott, Four of Swords and Stiltskin being just a few. She is one of the co-artistic directors of Boots and Moon Theatre and The Pocketwatch Theatre Company. She also plays fiddle in folk band 'The Dillyboys'.


Aidan Casey is an actor and writer who trained at the Academy of Live and Recorded Arts in London. Over the last ten years he has divided his time between London and the Westcountry working across both theatre and screen, most recently in partnership with Riversmeet. A South West based production company that he co founded in 2017.


Jon Dyer is an experienced performer and musician based in Devon. His interest in music began at a very young age, and he quickly found himself performing across the UK. Jon is the flautist in inventive folk band Gadarene, as well as being involved in many other bands and projects. Since gaining his Music Performance degree from Falmouth University, Jon has been working for Wren Music as a community musician, leading a variety of ensembles, workshops and community projects. Jon also played double bass in the UK tour of Fisherman’s Friends The Musical and has appeared as a musician in the BBC period drama Poldark.


Ava started performing at the age of 12 in Christmas shows at the New Vic Theatre in Newcastle-Under-Lyme before training professionally at Rose Bruford graduating with a BA Hons in Actor Musicianship.
While training at Bruford Ava was cast in a wide range of different roles, from Astrov in Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya, to Mrs Peachum in Dead dog in a suitcase, and Mellissa Milcote in Coram boy.
Ava particularly enjoys comedy and played a 70-year-old in a comedic show of Victoria wood style slapstick, northern comedy!
Ava also writes music and gigs, as well as having had a gig residency in Camden, singing their own music and covers from alternative MT to Folk and Jazz.


Evie trained as an Actor-Musician at Rose Bruford. Her recent credits include GUNK! (Etcetera Theatre) and Final Girls (Central Saint Martins). Evie is so excited to take 40 Elephants on tour and share the character's stories after having workshopped the show last year.

'4*** A super mixture of wry humour and darkness...You can’t want to see better ensemble work than you see in 40 Elephants' TheatrePlays.uk

'Visually creative and musically arresting...40 Elephants is fabulously entertaining. The songs hit the mark, the performances shine, and the story sees a group of women grasping at controlling their own destiny.' The PRSD


“Just seen 40 Elephants at Seaton. Absolutely brilliant all round. For me to see so many excellent musician actors AND ESPECIALLY WHO ARE WOMEN is an absolute joy. I loved the subject, the writing, compositions and staging. Please please come again!”

“Just seen 40 Elephants at Seaton. Absolutely fabulous! Outstanding actors delivered an amazing performance…Would highly recommend!!!!”

“A magnificent show”

“I love it when a piece of theatre outlasts the actual performance”.

“The songs, both lyrics and harmonies, were exceptional. I’ve been thinking about themes since.”


'Astonishing Music, Beautifully written'

'Explosive, Powerful and Impactful'

'Can't wait to hear more'

'Good mix of darkness and comedy'

'Completely different to any other shows I've seen'

'Brilliant Concept'

'Vibrant, intriguing and kick-ass - loved it!'