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Posts Tagged ‘Ellie Piercy’

I loved playwright Barney Norris’ first full-length play The Visitors and worried it might be hard to follow. Fear not. Though it shares the same gentle thoughtfulness and very well drawn characters, this time we’re watching the changes to rural life through three very different lives.

Set in the back garden of the local pub on the eve of its transfer from independent pub to corporate chain, outgoing publican John chews the fat with a regular and a more occasional customer. Regular Mark is reflecting on his unfulfilled life in a break from rebuilding the war memorial on the day of the funeral of the person who crashed into it. Part-time church organist Liz has popped in on her way to the funeral, as she does whenever she’s booked to play. Amongst other things, we learn why landlord John is moving on and why the day is particularly poignant for Mark. One year later, in the second act, they all really have moved on, but they meet up again because of another event, this time a wedding.

Through these personal stories, we see the changes to these communities. The pub is still at the heart of the village, but perhaps without its heart. People travel from elsewhere to work here as they can’t afford to live here anymore. Everyone moves on, but with different degrees of satisfaction and fulfilment. I found it wistful and reflective, beautifully written and sympathetically staged by Alice Hamilton. The three performances are all lovely. James Doherty plays John as a jokey host on the surface, but lets us see the intelligence and sadness beneath. Hasan Dixon shows Mark lacking in the confidence to make the bold decisions facing him, struggling to leave behind the past that he cannot change. Ellie Piercy’s Liz reveals less of herself as she listens and draws out the men with great empathy.

A lovely gentle satisfying evening that proves Barney Norris is no one-play wonder.

 

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