Carrie's War - Great Hall Players
CHRISTOPHER SMITH The Assembly House, Norwich
The Assembly House, Norwich
When war broke out in 1939, fear of bombing led to a programme of mass evacuation.
Hordes of children set off for the country. Some were welcomed; others met with suspicion and resentment.
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Herself an evacuee, Nina Bawden wrote a novel based on her experiences. Emma Reeves turned it into a play that captures the spirit of the story. Trudy McGilvray directs the Great Hall Players in an arena-style production that works well on a bare stage. The only problem comes when it takes rather a long time for characters to exit after speaking.
The centre of interest is Carrie, played by Deborah Dance. She occasionally talks too fast but has plenty of energy and charm. As her brother, Daniel Bardwell shows a boy's typical unreadiness to fit into the new situation. The children are billeted on a slightly odd couple in Wales. Short and fiery, Terry Cant is anxious that the children should not take advantage of his more kindly sister (Ruth Howitt).
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Soulful hymns are used to create atmosphere, along with popular songs of the period and some echoes of the Americans over here.
Village life is enlivened by strange characters. The most successful is Julie Barker as Hepzibah - not exactly the local witch but certainly rather like one.