Saga follows life of Nelson

Nelson Was a Norfolk Man, by The Masquers @ St George's Theatre, Yarmouth

Nelson Was a Norfolk Man, by The Masquers @ St George's Theatre, Yarmouth

By KEITH CUTLER

The Masquers excelled in last week's production of this well-researched episodic play by local author Michael Boon, who directed its performance. The company of 13 played upwards of 100 characters throughout, as well as singing 18th century folk songs led by the three voices of the Mollyhawks Group.

However, this exceptional achievement emphasised the problem of introducing many cameo roles into a saga covering 24 years, as it was difficult always to identify all the historical characters – even with the help of the excellent programme and chronology that accompanied the play.

In a sterling performance, Paul Pascall portrayed Nelson's determination, physical courage and ruthlessness, particularly at the battle of Copenhagen.

Nelson was a prolific letter writer and effective use was made of correspondence with his wife, his brother, his father and the Duke of Clarence, with a spotlight on the writer switching to the recipients reading their replies.

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Lighting and sound effects were used to advantage, especially in the Battle of the Nile episode, where the flag ship L'Orente exploded, killing Admiral deBrueys and 1000 French sailors.

Nelson's provoked wife, Fanny, was played with the right degree of dignity by Jill Emmerson. Coral Doggett played Emma Hamilton, who seduced the Norfolk hero under the nose of her complacent husband Sir William.

The play ended appropriately with Nelson's triumphant return to Yarmouth in July 1801 – three months after the Battle of Copenhagen.

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