by Ivan Cutting.
Parham Airfield Museum IP13 9AF To 20 May 2012.
Fri, Sat 7.30pm Mat Sat 3.45pm Sun 2.30pm.
Runs 2hr 30min One interval.
TICKETS: 01473 211498.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 17 May.
Superbly acted, strongly-written play that’s a study in history and a portrait of a society. And a good rattling yarn.
Winston Churchill’s underground war rooms weren’t alone, according to Ivan Cutting’s new play. Expecting an invasion, Churchill organised guerilla Auxiliary Units, based in underground bunkers, across eastern England.
Private Resistance imagines one such Unit’s operations. But he goes further. Alongside attacks on the Germans, there’s a move from squirearchy to the Welfare State, encapsulated in Phil Pritchard’s fine double portrayals of loyal, taciturn estate-worker Frank, in act one, and northern Communist Alan after the interval.
The two acts have a different pace. The first, set in 1940-41, hurtles forward as people respond to the new, unfamiliar occupation. Dates are marked on a calendar as time hurries by, with blood and action.
The second act’s properly slower; by 1943 people tensely await a coordinated uprising. Yet Cutting’s skilful change of pace and mood maintains attention as the character relationships hurriedly established in the first act are investigated in more depth and the situation makes increased demands on loyalties and expectations.
The script leaves performances to create the period, and, especially, Fabrice Serafino’s set, covered in a public service poster, while tactfully pointing to the time’s perspective: Dunkirk starts as an unfamiliar place name; later Alan partially understands what happens to the Jews being shipped abroad in cattle-trucks.
Each character steps outside the scene to describe their death. The first surprise, in this wartime play, comes with a reference to the NHS as one young character announces their death aged 85, their insistence on NHS treatment gaining significance as the play unfolds.
The writing is matched by Naomi Jones’ direction for Eastern Angles, which maintains the play as action-thriller, while allowing its social implications to develop through five excellent performances. Frances Marshall’s cautious householder contrasts Bishanyia Vincent’s incoming worker, sexually frank, yet brave as much as brazen, Fred Lancaster shows the development of Wilf from mid-teen innocence to the determination of a late-teen resistance fighter, while Matt Addis is quietly fine as the landowner whose role fades and whose contact with Germans becomes suspect to others.
Exciting as story and social picture, it’s a pity these Parham performances signal the tour’s end.
Tom: Matt Addis.
Frank/Alan: Phil Pritchard.
Prue: Bishanyia Vincent.
Wilf: Fred Lancaster.
Diane: Frances Marshall.
Director: Naomi Jones.
Designer: Fabrice Serafino.
Lighting: Steve Cooney.
Sound: Chris Warner.