Slave trade play is a must-see

THE EBONY BOXSt Mary-at-the-Quay Church, IpswichLast nightONE of the leading figures in the abolition of the slave trade, Thomas Clarkson, died and is buried in Playford, near Ipswich.


St Mary-at-the-Quay Church, Ipswich

Last night

ONE of the leading figures in the abolition of the slave trade, Thomas Clarkson, died and is buried in Playford, near Ipswich.

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To celebrate his great achievement, and the 200th anniversary of the 1807 Slave Trade Abolition Act, Suffolk theatre company Red Rose Chain have produced a compelling new drama, The Ebony Box.

With a cast of just three and using the simplest of sets in the disused St Mary-at-the-Quay Church near Ipswich's docks, Red Rose Chain manage to transport the audience back to that turbulent period of history.

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Through music, superb lighting and top class acting, the audience are reminded about not only the horrors of the time but also the incredible strength and bravery of those who fought against the slave trade in the face of such adversity.

The play is an adaptation of the 18th century political activist's book on abolishing slavery. It spans 22 years, from when he first wrote an essay about slavery in 1785, to the abolition of the act in parliament.

Schools in the area are currently attending performances of the show during the day, and perhaps one of the most important elements to emerge is the character of Clarkson. His courage to question the atrocity and devote most of his life to the cause makes him one of the key historical figures to admire.

Red Rose Chain regular Jimmy Grimes plays Clarkson with energy and passion. He is ably supported by Josh Golding, and Milly Jupp, who gives a startling performance in her professional debut and is definitely a name to keep an eye on.

Although the play tackles some uncomfortable truths, its writer and director Joanna Carrick has also found room for some light relief, through links between scenes, songs and a quick-witted script.

Even now, 200 years on, the slave trade is still an emotive issue that is too easy to forget. That is why this play is so important and why everyone must see it.

The Ebony Box is on now until November 25. Performances begin at 7.30pm, except on Sundays when they begin at 4pm.


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