by Frazer Flintham by Chris Bush.

New Vic Theatre Etruria Road Newcastle-under-Lyme ST5 0JG In rep to 25 July 2015.
7.30pm 11, 14, 15, 18, 20-22, 25 July; Mat 11 July 2.15pm.
Audio-described 11 Jul 2.15pm.
Captioned 21 Jul.
Runs 2hr 40min One interval.

Intriguing variety in new plays for old treasure..
With the opening of the second double-bill in the main-house programme of plays related to the 2009 find of buried Anglo-Saxon treasure in Staffordshire, it becomes clear the New Vic’s ‘Hoard’ festival reflects the discovery both by being local, in plays’ setting and authorship, and in the scattered variety of events – all-round the theatre, and outside.

Scripts new as the treasure’s discovery take a variety of approaches. Like repertory companion double-bill Unearthed and The Gift, this pairing has Artistic Director Theresa Heskins responsible for a comparatively light-hearted modern piece, followed by Gemma Fairlie (who’s surely gone some way to earn herself a longer stay with her multiple Table Plays alongside two in the main programme) taking-on a serious story set in Anglo-Saxon Mercia.

There’s no centrepiece; each drama plays its part, with Frazer Flintham in good humour from his title down. The Throne is life as lived today in Rugeley, at least that section which congregates in amiable, unadventurous Sid’s pub.

It’s a place to have left if you want to get anywhere, and there’s sufficient comedy between the rather obvious types hanging round the bar, or the case of Peggy, returned after years and aptly calling in to use the lavatory, which might have been made by Cliff, who’s gone nowhere as a worker at Armitage Shanks.

Pomposity’s pricked, the locals exploiting Anglo-Saxon interest by playing a trick on upper-class Gordon and his metal detector (an unlikely combination, but it serves the plot). The free spirit is young Whitney, off to see life the other side of the world, and given a delightfully light manner by Gwawr Loader, who’s one-person ‘table play’ performance shared the same fleeting sense of thought and expression. Flintham sees events off with a neatly-contrived surprise.

Chris Bush opens up a story of Anglo-Saxon times, in serious mode. It’s a tough-mannered piece, spartan in Fairlie’s theatrically complex production on Mika Handley’s minimal set – contrasting her detailed modern pub in the first play.

Friendship is important in life’s struggle. Haunting vocal music suggests thoughts and feelings reaching beyond immediate circumstances. The final impact is theatrically forceful.

The Throne
Sid: David Crellin.
Pam: Elizabeth Elvin.
Whitney: Gwawr Loader.
Richard: Perry Moore.
Gordon: Adam Morris.
Cliff: David Nellist.
Peggy: Bryonie Pritchard.

Director: Theresa Heskins.
Designer: Mika Handley.
Lighting: Daniella Beattie.
Sound: James Earls Davis.
Vocal coach: Natalie Grady.

Chorus/Puppeteer: Suzanne Ahmet.
Mouse: Romayne Andrews.
Chorus: Jemma Churchill.
Lark: Crystal Condie.
Chorus/Puppeteer: Paula James.
Bull: David Kirkbride.
Weasel: Perry Moore.
Dragon: Adam Morris.
Boar/Chorus: David Semark.
Mole/Chorus: Johnson Willis.

Director: Gemma Fairlie.
Designer: Mika Handley.
Lighting/Projections: Daniella Beattie.
Musical Arranger/Director: Conrad Nelson.
Puppets Director: Matt Hutchinson.
Vocal coach: Natalie Grady.
Fight directors: Rachel Bown-Williams, Ruth Cooper-Brown of RC-ANNIE.

2015-07-09 12:07:06

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