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The Dead Moon

Wonderful Beast at The Cut, Halesworth

Review published in the Eastern Daily Press, 30 June 2008

The Dead Moon

Smugglers romantically risking lives hauling untaxed tea, tobacco, gin, brandy and silk. Local history on our coast. Great theatre.

Where Suffolk-based Wonderful Beast are different is adding folklore, myths and legends in a powerful tale of tradition and belonging in a community.

There is a couple (Sasha Mitchell and John Neville) anxious about their baby, yet needing to bring in the contraband, faced with Captain of the Preventivemen (Matt Prendergast) billeted in their home, determined to catch smugglers.

Annie Firbank plays an old harridan, or wise chorus, commenting on the action and stiffening the backbones of the locals, with the crunch of feet on shingle in her voice and moon shadows across marshes in her eyes.

Directed by Alys Kihl, it feels like early Eastern Angles’ productions, but mixing professionals with amateurs – the trad-folk singer Vernon Rose and the Suffolk step-dancer Lenny Whiting.

There is singing of sea shanties and folk songs – with word sheets to encourage audience participation.

The highlight is the music/sound effects created by Sylvia Hallett sitting at the side with a range of instruments, from violin to a kalimbe and including her magnificent voice.

She makes sounds weird, chilling, terrifying and atmospheric.

After a mini tour in Suffolk, it could be developed into an extensive work next year, hopefully taking in the entire region. It deserves wider coverage.

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