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 Connecting professional and amateur theatre in Newbury, West Berkshire and beyond

Box Theatre Company - Blue Remembered Hills

26th February to 1st March 2003.

From the Newbury Weekly News.

Tragedy with the tingle factor

Dennis Potter's Blue Remembered Hills, performed by The Box Theatre Company at New Greenham Arts, from Wednesday, February 26 to Saturday, March 1

Confession time. I have always wanted to do this play. But I don't anymore. Director Tracey Donnelly and her Box Theatre cast have undoubtedly set such a benchmark of excellence that future local companies would do well to return any copies they have of this play to their nearest library and direct their energies elsewhere.

At face-value a story about children in wartime rural England, the play centres around the bickering and bullying that makes up the shifting alliances of childhood friendships and enmities. In this case the drama builds to a tragedy when one of their number is killed in an terrible accident.

You could then, stick a bunch of adult actors in short trousers, give the women pigtails and just get on with it, but don't expect to achieve this standard of performance if you do.

Although supported by some great acting, everything rested on the cast and director's ability not only to skip and run but to fully replicate the complex relationships that children have with each other and to replicate them, not as we adults think they would, but as children really do, with an honesty that was naked, terrifying and thought-provoking.

Dream team casting always helps and Ian Pocock, Ed Roberts, Daniel Sherrat and Paul Isherwood created a bunch of lads running wild with such skill that the entire auditorium became that wood and that distant summer afternoon. Sophie Hicklin and Adelina Miller gave top-rate performances as Angela and Audrey, fretting endlessly over babies and boys and yet with the whole pain of childhood there in every game they played in and out of the crisp lighting cues and all over a credible and well-used set.

The final tragedy of 'Donald Duck', played by Duncan Mack, was as powerful a piece of theatre as you are likely to see this side of...well whenever.
Brilliantly under-played it gave this production a tingle factor his audience will remember for a very long time. I hope the company remember those moments too, with justifiable pride.