The Long Way Home

Christopher SmithMaddermarket Theatre, NorwichChristopher Smith

The Long Way Home, Maddermarket Theatre, Norwich

The title sketches the plot. Charles Way's drama traces an old woman's journey. Before she reaches her destination by the seashore, she is in for surprises, unexpected encounters and, finally, a sense of fulfilment.

The Eastern Angles company pauses at the Maddermarket Theatre on its tireless touring around the region to present a production by Naomi Jones that is ingenious and entertaining, often moving yet lightened by flashes of humour.

A tall, dignified figure in peasant black, Susan McGoun is the Old Mother, contrasting with the lithe Theo Devaney who, with a fascinating blend of savagery and grace, becomes her strange travelling companion. James Bolt and Jumaan Short make up the rest of the cast.

As narrators they explain the situation at the start and at each new juncture. They also convincingly establish the identity of a series of different roles in split seconds and create mini-dramas of unsettling intensity.

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On a minimal setting in front of a white backcloth, with few props, they performers don't just speak. They sing and dance, fight and embrace, while puppets mimic their progress on steep mountain paths as the wind howls. Portraying human emotions through the ageless patterns of fairytale with modern touches added, the play adopts the forms of epic theatre as to the manner born.

Christopher Smith

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