NODA Review by Sue DuPont East Region District 5
Thank you very much for the invitation to attend the CSODS' production of Bracken Moor, and what a play, and such an intense evening to grip the imagination.
Kirk Wills' description of this play in the programme as "dramatic, haunting, compelling and unpredictable" just covers it all and such a play on stage that one was dragged into the plot with no lessening of intense interest even to the final seconds: and that is quite an achievement for the director and cast.
Social history, flash backs, possession, drama, good characterisations and inter-relationships, all a very high standard.
Technically, the set ideal and highly appropriate for the period and background, and some effects that really enhanced the atmosphere and plot.
And what a very strong cast with some excellent characterisations and relationships. Martin Rodwell, as Harold Pritchard, was dominating as the mine owner who knew his way was right and who did not suffer other views; such a strong and unrelenting character (accent well preserved throughout, and glimpses of the Yorkshire humour briefly to lighten at times), who, even with his despairing wife, never lessens his views or stance on life.
As Elizabeth, his wife, Janet Hignett had a dream of an acting role showing her despair and still suffering for the loss of her child; we saw touches of the person she had been in a previous life and the remembrance of what had been before the terrible accident which changed her life. Her interactions and mood changes with her husband, her friend Vanessa, and her relationship with Terence were something special to watch and be drawn into during the play.
As friend Vanessa, Chrissie Robertson gave the London scene a reality and tried so hard to help Elizabeth to return to a less sad life and to shelve some memories, a very upbeat personality and glamour in a good contrasting female role. Husband Geoffrey Avery from Richard Delahaye was good in friendship and support for his wife and for his friend Harold, although not always in understanding of son Terence.
And to the performance of the evening: Zachary Green as Terence was so right in style, looks and age for the role, the friend of dead Edgar, truly a soul mate at age 12, and what he might have been at 22 years. We had the young man who was forming his character and opinions (strongly and not always in accord with his elders), the son who survived and who could give Elizabeth a feel for what might have been. With the 'possession' by Edgar of Terence, the whole plot became intense and gripping as did his performance, he must be totally exhausted with this rendition by the end of the evening as he put his whole self physically and mentally into the role, the play worked because of him, and completed in the final twist in the story.
And on another level, the maid Eileen (Vicky Stowell) did not just bring in the trays of drinks and coffee, she was an interactive character in this household and in the plot.
As expected Matt Scantlebury coped so very well with his two contrasting (but important) cameo characters of John Bailey and Dr Gibbons.
And one should not forget the voice (and acting) of young Harry Wilson as the similar age Edgar (as mimed by Terence), and good to see his call at finale.
A gripping play, worthy of the standard expected from CSODS.