Watermill Young Company - Lay Your Sleeping Head
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Watermill Young Company - Lay Your Sleeping Head

17th to 21st November 2009.

This review is from the Newbury Weekly News.

They're all lovin' the Watermill Young Company

Watermill Young Company: Lay Your Sleeping Head, from Tuesday, November 17 to Saturday, November 21

Family relationships can be complicated challenging affairs and sometimes they are not always harmonious. In Ciaran McConville's excellent and stunning new play, Lay Your Sleeping Head for the Watermill's Young Company we share the experiences and lives of three generations of the same family who have lived and shared a farmhouse on the Somerset Levels over the past 70 years.

Ciaran is an up-and-coming writer who is certainly a playwright to follow. His play is brimful of meticulous observation and charming insight into both rural English and modern life as time moves between the generations.

Designer Julieann Worrall Hood's delightful set captured perfectly the rural setting, with an Aga, large farmhouse table and beautifully rural landscape picture suggesting the changing seasons, finely lit by Stuart Harrison. Skilfully directed by Ade Morris, this large, talented cast confidently portrayed their characters as the play moved seamlessly between the various generations, revealing a story of love, betrayal, loss and hope.

It was a complex plot that worked on several levels, from contemporary rural life to modern urban stresses and the traditional farming community. The extended family gathered together as they prepared to sell the house, sort out long-term family squabbles and help to pay for Adam's (Jack Ford-Lane) drug debts and his relationship with Simon (Daniel Gladwell). His older sister, Judith - a sterling performance by Charlotte Allen - discovers her parents' diaries, revealing their loving relationship (sensitively played by Daryl Hurst and Lucy Carmichael as Colin and June). We learned much about the family's humble beginnings and their struggle to cope with bringing up a family through the atrocities of the Second World War and their links with the land and their farm in developing a cheese business.

There were many secrets that were slowly revealed through the generations, including unplanned pregnancies. There were some fine ensemble performances from an excellent supportive cast.

Sophie Cooke provided a superb live musical accompaniment that perfectly complemented the story.

As Cairan McConville said in the programme: "When I was asked what defined my generation all I could think of was the McDonald's jingle I'm lovin' it'." I certainly loved this show, as did the enthusiastic audience. The Watermill's Young Company just grows in the quality of its productions. Bravo.

ROBIN STRAPP