Angles rekindle interest in country tale

The Walsingham Organ, Eastern Angles' spring tour at venues in East Anglia throughout March, April and May, including two weeks at the Sir John Mills Theatre Ipswich from May 7.

The Walsingham Organ, Eastern Angles' spring tour at venues in East Anglia throughout March, April and May, including two weeks at the Sir John Mills Theatre Ipswich from May 7.

PASSIONS run high in the parish of Little Walsingham, Norfolk.

A rich vein of Victorian references run through Alastair Cording's strong, elegantly-written, funny, and poignant drama.

It is a story of simple folk - the church band, their spokesman local builder and demolition man Miles Brown, and his brother, James, who is the simplest of all.

The Squire, Henry Lee Warner has big plans for Walsingham and his brother, Septimus, the vicar of the parish church St Mary's is delighted to oversee the renovation of the church. He is especially keen to sack the band and replace them with a mighty organ.

The tale is based on a true "dastardly outrage" that occurs on bonfire night 1866 when the Walsingham organ, which replaces the band, is blown sky high. The mystery of whodunnit, subsequent unfortunate events and misunderstandings wreak havoc on the close-knit community.

Most Read

Into this battle of the classes comes Septimus's ward, the lovely, musical and naive Charlotte, whose gallant attempts to train the church band to produce a more ecumenical sound brings her close to artisan Miles.

The players - there are four - are a splendid ensemble who, in the best Eastern Angles' tradition, fill the stage with rich, extraordinary characters.

Richard Foster, a formidably side-burned Miles Brown, makes us believe in the gentle, honest, hardworking man who becomes a victim of the class war waged by the squire. His rage is frightening and his tenderness touching.

Brian Orrell's Rev Septimus Lee Warner is a cleric whose sanctimonious snobbery is intoned to great comic effect. His turn of phrase and, ultimately, his fate are wonderfully Dickensian.

The Reverend's ward, Charlotte who has a few gorgeous moments of chemistry with Miles is beautifully played by Sally Ann Burnett, who also gives us a delicious cameo of a clay pipe-smoking Norfolk "boi".

James Peck is both the villainous Squire Henry and simple James. Against the backdrop of the Reform Bill of the 1860s, the Squire rails against democracy and has some great one-liners as he rages at the prospect of Parliament extending the right to vote.

Meanwhile endearing James runs around shouting "boom!", watches trains and mimics his brother. James Peck was both men, no question.

As always the musicianship of the actors is first class and the St Mary's church band performs on an unusual collection of "air" instruments that give a whole new dimension to the 100th Psalm.

Deftly directed by Ivan Cutting, the drama is played out on a set which features what is perhaps best-described as an adult-sized activity centre with several moving parts.

It really is worth pulling out all the stops to go along and see this excellent production.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter