The York Realist

CHRISTOPHER SMITH Maddermarket Theatre, Norwich


Maddermarket Theatre, Norwich

Contrast is what gives life to Peter Gill's play. Everything suggests a tale of Yorkshire folk, three generations of a country family only gradually moving into the 20th century.

Some accents are more persuasive than others but the tone and meaning of the conversations are clear enough.

A young man is up from the South to help with the production of the famous revivals of the York mystery plays. He is sure he has found the local actor he needs and for a while, thinks he has found the man he is looking for too. Tensions build to a wry conclusion.

The feature of Peter Sowerbutts' direction is meticulous attention to detail. Michael Bloom's set is both authentic and simple, conveying atmosphere while leaving plenty of space for the action to develop naturally. The slow fade of the lights at the end of the first act is a clear message to the audience that it must take in the scene. This is where we are, and the pull of place is going to be a significant factor.

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Clothes tell a lot too. Work-a-day cords and marl-encrusted boots speak as loud as words in comparison with a black velvet jacket and a smart cravat. The clothes the women put on for mourning come across equally well as a comment on what they wear on normal occasions.

The tall Trevor Markworth takes the lead with the conviction we are told gives him assurance in the mystery play. David Blood, smaller in stature, correctly appears weaker in a fine characterisation.

Susan Seddon, Sally Dixon and Chloe Burt are an admirably observed, well-differentiated trio.