Poignancy and humour but lacking story

AKENFIELD was a seminal book and film that broke new ground by using local sources to portray a rural world that was changing yet had many aspects that were timeless.

Return to Akenfield by Craig Taylor.

Eastern Angles touring production

March 23

AKENFIELD was a seminal book and film that broke new ground by using local sources to portray a rural world that was changing yet had many aspects that were timeless.

This production by Eastern Angles revisits old ground but tries to update with what is happening with the farms and villages now.

I am never sure that documentaries work well on stage - there is invariably too much ground to be covered.

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Here five actors portrayed 40 characters and at times it was just overwhelming to try and hold on to who was who. The lack of a story threading through did not help - apart from vignette concerning a polish worker and a caf� girl the characters seemed unconnected and there were so many of them it was difficult to be involved.

The first half therefore seemed very disjointed and too loaded with factual information about the fruit growing industry to get much drama from the performance. The second half was better, more structured and more focused on one or two particular lives.

The setting of three telegraph poles reducing in height was clever, and I loved the live sound effects created by the cast themselves. Especially good was Robert Macpherson as the polish worker and David Redgrave as various 'ol Suffolk boys' of indeterminate age.

The pace was maintained throughout and the cast worked well as a team.

However I think I was expecting much more of a connection to the Akenfield film and therefore was a little disappointed.

If you go expecting no more than a broad commentary on rural life today you will enjoy it.

This is a clever production and did have moments of poignancy and humour but as entertainment its lack of dramatic highs and lows meant it left something to be desired.

SUSAN HAWKES

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