Touring production at Aylsham High School
Dark family secrets and the bygone magic rituals of rural horsemen are at the heart of this fascinating drama from Eastern Angles, now in the final week of its autumn tour.
It is a compex multi-layered tapestry, the narrative switching back and forth between the years of the Great War and the late 1990s.
There is inventive use of music, screens and film projections to evoke time and place, from the horror of a mud-soaked Flanders war trench to an idyllic country scene of shire horse and plough.
The play begins with the 100th birthday of Frances, the family matriarch, at the same time as the bones of her husband Jack and his comrade-in-arms Eddie have been unearthed in a Belgian field, some 80 years after their deaths.
Ray, a great-grandson of Frances and a would-be historian, becomes the chronicler both of a disappeared rural life and of Frances' emotional past. And when Hannah, another great grandchild of Frances, breezes in from Canada, she too has a cathartic effect on the family and gradually all layers of secrets and lies are peeled away.
The cast of eight switch costumes, accents and characters with consummate ease and sustain a gripping suspense from start to finish. The women are particularly strong, with a feisty central performance from Katherine Burford as Frances. Ivan Cutting, the writer/director has taken rich subject matter, interweaving an intriguing social history with the intensely personal, to make a powerful drama.
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