Review: Parkway Dreams, by Kenneth Emson, Eastern Angles Theatre Company, Hightide Festival, Halesworth, Sunday, May 5

Parkway Dreams. Harry Waller, Robet Jackson, Laura Corbett, Polly Nayler & Matt Ray-Brown. An easter

Parkway Dreams. Harry Waller, Robet Jackson, Laura Corbett, Polly Nayler & Matt Ray-Brown. An eastern Angles production. - Credit: Archant

How do you successfully turn the story of the development of a new town in the East Anglian fens into a pulsating musical full of laughter, songs, satire and sadness?

Parkway Dreams with Barnaby Southgate, Laura Corbett, Harry Waller. An Eastern Angles production

Parkway Dreams with Barnaby Southgate, Laura Corbett, Harry Waller. An Eastern Angles production - Credit: Archant

A tough proposition, surely, but this mesmerising production by the region’s foremost touring company just pulsates with great ideas and is a pure pleasure to watch.

Emson’s script is based on the story of the development of Peterborough as a London overspill town and the vision embraced by planners constantly at the mercy of politicians and changing government policy.

However, this is no eulogy on town planning. Brilliantly directed by Ivan Cutting, the play is interlaced with the story of one of the families which left London to seek a new life away from slum dwellings and unemployment.

Nor does this family find a panacea because, as the play beautifully and touchingly demonstrates, even the best-laid plans do not always work in practice and those who try to live out a vision are subject to human emotions and frailties, victims of recessions, vulnerable to good luck and bad luck.


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The superb cast of six actors play a variety of different characters with conviction and a great sense of ensemble.

Television quiz shows of the 70s and 80s are utilised to humorously confront some of the dilemmas facing planners and new residents.

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Yes, there are lots of facts, and figures given out but they in no way dominate scenes which seem to flow effortlessly from one to another, full of fascinating characters, great movement routines, music and song.

I’ve not engaged with everything which has emerged from this theatre company’s stable in recent years but this is vintage Eastern Angles, a production packed with great ideas, imagination and wonderful performances.

Parkway Dreams will be performed at the Lakeside Theatre, Essex University, tonight, Haverhill Arts Centre on Thursday, the John Peel Centre, Stowmarket, on Friday and the Sir John Mills Theatre, Ipswich, from May 14-18. A must-see.

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