Imaginative fairytale style fantasy

The Long Way Home by Charles Way - Eastern Angles opening night at Aldeburgh, February 17 - then touring.It is unusual for this company to perform a play not specifically written for them - the only other time in fact was another Charles Way play - In the Bleak Midwinter, back in 2000.

The Long Way Home by Charles Way - Eastern Angles opening night at Aldeburgh, February 17 - then touring.

It is unusual for this company to perform a play not specifically written for them - the only other time in fact was another Charles Way play - In the Bleak Midwinter, back in 2000. So why pick this one? A play written by a Welshman set in Greece about the journey of an old woman as seen through the eyes of two storytellers.

In some ways this play is typically Eastern Angles - the set is multi purpose, the props become many things and the actors play many characters. But, this is a play where language and stories are more important than the plot, and the strong use of puppetry seemed much more suited to children's theatre - not surprisingly since Way is predominantly a children's writer.

Susan McGoun plays the central character of Old Mother with believable gravitas - we follow her journey from the village where she has spent her marriage back through the mountains to her childhood home.


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She is accompanied by a strange creature she finds in the woods, a half wild dog-boy, convincingly played by Theo Devaney. She sets about teaching him to speak and act like a proper human. Along the way they come across a number of different characters - all created enthusiastically by James Bolt and Jumaan Short, who as The Storytellers, in effect, control what happens during the play, as well as being the puppeteers.

Especially effective was the puppet of Old Mother's dead husband, a wonderful creation from a cooking pot and rags, who became a catalyst for a lot of the emotion in the story.

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The pace was slow in the first half, but picked up once the actors relaxed into their performance. The lighting was fairly basic, the main effect being a rising sun, but using unaccompanied song as well as imagery the cast worked hard to create this strange world.

This is not an easy play to stage for an adult audience. Possibly the only way to enjoy it is to suspend disbelief and buy into the rather surreal presentation of what is effectively a fairytale in the Brothers Grimm tradition. The cast are personable, the play is watchable, humorous in places, certainly different. Definitely something to try with an open mind.

Susan Hawkes

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