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New Era - Blue Remembered Hills

13th to 15th and 18th to 22nd September 2007.

Here is the NWN review.

When we were young

New Era: Blue Remembered Hills, at the New Era Theatre, Wash Common, from September 13 to 15 and September 18 to 22

Dennis Potter's Blue Remembered Hills is set during the Second World War, in a rural village in the Forest of Dean. This was a time when children could play outside all day, build dens in the wood, let their imaginations explore wartime sorties as commandos, pilots or cowboys, and create make-believe games that aped their parents as the girls set up 'house'. These were halcyon days of a bygone era which were perfectly captured by New Era director Nigel Winter.

It is quite a challenge for adults to play primary school-age children, but the seven talented actors embraced the style and genre with energy and tremendous physicality as they found the child within and portrayed the innocence and joy of childhood with confidence and zeal. The play starts with Willie, beautifully characterised by David Zeke, leaping onto the stage acting out a Spitfire attack on the enemy, with Peter (Keith Kier) as the parachutist - enormously funny. Willie is second in the 'gang' and a bully. He is particularly cruel to the unfortunate stammering cowboy Raymond (David Tutee).

The girls play mummies and daddies, with Angela (Kate Honeybill) looking after the baby and Audrey (Nicola Sowden) playing the nurse, to hilarious effect, as she treated one of the boys who had cut his thumb in a pretend sawmill accident: "I've stopped the bleeding, but you are going to die in a minute". It was obvious that the kids were reflecting the values of adults, which made the play more poignant.

There is a power struggle for the number two position between Willie and John (Jack Dillon), who ends up fighting for the position which John triumphantly wins.

There is social prejudice, name-calling and violence with the troubled and anxious Donald, sensitively played by Tim Stanton, who is missing his father and becomes the butt of the gang's bullying. He dies, trapped in a barn that the gang has accidentally set on fire.

This was very much an ensemble piece with the excellent cast sustaining believable Gloucestershire accents. The period costumes were convincing and the set and lighting effective. A delightful evening's entertainment, much enjoyed by an appreciative audience.