Review: The Transports, Maddermarket Theatre, Norwich

The Transports

The Transports - Credit: Submitted

Norfolk folk legend Peter Bellamy's ballad opera masterpiece The Transports made a poignant return to the county, writes Rosemary Dixon.

Norfolk's late-lamented folk maestro Peter Bellamy would surely have approved of this latest timely reboot of his moving and ultimately redemptive ballad opera The Transports, captivating a capacity audience at Norwich's Maddermarket Theatre on Wednesday night.

The poignant and dramatic tale of Henry, Susannah and their infant child's transportation to the new penal colony of Botany Bay in 1787 drew its inspiration from local sources so it was entirely fitting that this triumphant conclusion to a nationwide tour should be in Norwich, a stone's throw from the gaol where the young lovers were incarcerated.

The new settings of Bellamy's finely-crafted ballads were superb, with excellent singing and music throughout, featuring a panoply of folk music talent, including Nancy Kerry, Benji Kirkpatrick, Rachael McShane and Greg Russell.

The narrator Matthew Crampton eloquently expanded on the background to the story while drawing thought-provoking parallels with recent migrant and refugee experiences. It is clear that Bellamy's 40-year old masterpiece has not only stood the test of time but has much to offer a new generation of performers and, indeed, much to say to a new audience who acknowledged this fine performance with a standing ovation. The album CD is available from Hudson Records.

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