Review: Engaging tale of Ipswich’s past

Changing Faces Hidden Lives cast

Changing Faces Hidden Lives cast - Credit: Archant

Changing Faces, Hidden Lives By Suzanne Hawkes St Mary’s Church, Bucklesham – dress rehearsal

Changing Faces, Hidden Lives, is an informative, engaging and entertaining piece of theatre.

Written and directed by Suzanne Hawkes, the play focuses on one of Ipswich’s oldest and most historic buildings – St Mary at the Quay – and its connections to the shifting communities of the Ipswich Waterfront

Exploring the characters that worshipped at St Mary at the Quay over the centuries and the building’s evolution into Quay Place – a wellbeing and heritage centre – Changing Faces, Hidden lives is a fascinating and meticulously researched journey from the 16th century to the modern day.

Featuring some of Ipswich’s personalities – including Tudor merchants Henry and Alice Tooley, explorer Thomas Cavendish and mariner Thomas Eldred – the play records the lives of those bound up with the town’s mercantile history.

A mythological character – the Spirit of the Sea - adds a metaphysical dimension as the action switches throughout from the present day to past episodes.

As well as breaking some taboos and challenging stereotypes, the play highlights some 21st century mental health issues while cleverly juxtaposing them with the stresses of those living in former times.

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The acting is of good quality, the costumes are colourful, the original music – provided by Bill Stoddart – is excellent, and the piece, though perhaps a bit too long in duration, is peppered with humour and pathos.

An interesting and thought-provoking production.