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David Porter » Reviews » Return to Akenfield

Return to Akenfield

Eastern Angles Theatre at the Seagull Theatre, Lowestoft.

Review published in Eastern Daily Press and East Anglian Daily Times, 27 February 2009.

Return to Akenfield

Many of a certain age will recall the book of the late 60s and the film of the 70s about fictional Akenfield in rural Suffolk with all the stresses of farming life then. Now it’s updated with migrant workers, intensive farming and supermarket buying power, making it relevant to now, whether we live in town or countryside.

One old character says – I never dreamed how much things would change. None of us ever does, and that’s the truth, the power of this fine piece.

Canadian playwright, Craig Taylor presents it in verbatim theatre style, where the voices (some real, some fictional) of forty five characters from Akenfield and surroundings are brought to life by five talented actors, including Charlotte Thompson from Gorleston and David Redgrave from Lowestoft.

There is mainly direct address to the audience, a series of interwoven anecdotes, soapbox views and heartfelt confessions, as we identify with their lives, loves and tragedies. It’s a challenge to perform, not just the multi-roling without leaving the stage, but because it’s not a play with interactions in a traditional sense.

They carry it off magnificently with director Naomi Jones achieving a pacy reality that makes for an evening running the full gamut of our emotions from the very funny to the rather heavy sense of death in the air at the end.

A triumph of tradition with new theatrical approaches. It’s on tour. See it!

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