The 2016 programme included two live theatre shows, two live musical performances, four films and some singing… that breakneck Irish play, the Rudes and their Shakespearean birds, spine-tingling classical music, old movies, new movies, Mike Hatchard’s jazz, fancy dress and a festive singalong. Plus, the Community Chorus group performed at the WWI commemoration and at the Crowhurst News 30th event…
Mike Hatchard, a regular visitor to our village hall, together with fairly new Crowhurst resident and superb trumpet player Paul Eshelby, entertained the packed house in a perfect manner for Valentine’s Day. They were joined occassionally by Keith Taylor, who demonstrated his expertise on the banjo.
The delightfully informal programme, enhanced by easy-going and sparkling repartee between the two principal performers, displayed the versatility of Mike on keyboard, violin and guitar, as well as singing, together with Paul’s five-star trumpet, flugel and keyboard playing (sometimes with brass in one hand and fingers of the other on the keyboard!).
photos: Dick Chalwin
Funny, oh so funny; sad, oh so sad. And powerful. And supremely well acted.
It took a moment or two to adapt to the two actors performing all the parts: a sudden tick, a character volte face, a change of posture and voice, and they’d leap into a new role. Like driving on the right, you soon get used to it.
Charlie (Conan Sweeney) and Jake (Charlie De Bromhead) are the central protagonists, County Kerry lads working as extras on a Hollywood movie being made in their village. Humour came from the interactions between the villagers and the interlopers, a clash of culture and values, delicately observed and boisterously acted.
The tragedy of the title was slowly revealed at the end of the first half. A young man’s suicide. Flashback scenes show Sean as a boy brimful of hope and ambition, but discovering disappointment, unemployment and cocaine as he grew up. Knockback after knockback, then brushed aside by the Hollywood leading lady, his despair spirals. He walks into a lake. Then walks back out to put stones in his pockets. To sink. It was a quiet and understated sequence that allowed space for a suicide at the heart of a comedy.
The second half saw the film crew feigning sympathy but bulldozing empathy. The locals are grieving and trying to arrange a funeral; the production crew need their last shots in the can. What takes priority? Modern commercial requirements or the needs of human beings? Money or people? And what is really at the root of Sean’s unfulfilled life and untimely death? It’s a great big Marxist allegory, but one that made you laugh.
Make no mistake, this wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea: there was a lot of swearing; the ode to cows at the end was a bit tangential. But precision character acting, a comedy of manners and a dose of pathos… just the job.
Gina Beukes, Philip Nolte, Moray Welsh and Richard have made their mark with big internationally renowned orchestras, but occasionally come together as a foursome to do justice to music written specifically for a quartet. Their UK debut was right here in Crowhurst some four or five years ago and they have returned several times since.
This year’s programme included scores by Haydn, Beethoven and Mendelssohn. Fast and slow, loud and quiet, light and shade, the selection carried the audience along, almost mesmerised, hushed and concentrating, utterly engaged. Often eyes closed. As pieces ended, there was a pause before the applause as the entranced crowd had to shake themselves to reality before clapping.
Indeed, John struggled to break the spell for the interval and a hilariously incongruous raffle. (Well, this is Crowhurst after all.)
Two encores and a finale that brought the house to their feet. A magical afternoon of music.
Review by Sue Pearce
The play was pleasure and laughs in abundance. It was set in the 1940s in the sleepy village of Jevington. George, a retired car mechanic, is tending to his vegetables (cabbages for the war effort) when his wife pops out with a cup of tea and some of his favourite upside down cake (memo to self, haven’t had one of those for years, must ask Mum to make us one!). She is also carrying a letter from the War Office and George is summoned to London. So he pops on his old flying jacket and goggles, and drives off on his Royal Enfield to the War Office.
When he returns he has the news that they want to dig up his land to use as an airfield for the bombers about to head across the Channel.
Horror in abundance….what, dig up the field! “What are we to do?” says Dora Pentlow, who runs the WI. Abominable! “What are we to do?” says Jack, the cricket captain. Shocking, chaps! “What are we to do?” says Briony, who runs the local dramatic society. Impossible!
But Briony is seeking love… and those darned bomber pilots are very attractive and dashing! Fluttering of eyelashes in abundance… ( you will have realised by now that this was a recurring script line! In abundance too…)
Alongside the ‘Oomans story there was also another story…
There is also a social order amongst the local birds… and at the top are the swans (Cygnus olor; that’s my nod to Paul Johnson!). That’s how it’s always been, the swans have always been top… Why? Don’t know why, it just is! The Coots (Fulica atra) love them and respect them, just because. Then the audacity, the sheer audacity… the sparrows (Passer domesticus) ask Cygnus, the male mute swan (not so mute in a Rudes production of course!) if they could move from the hedgerows over to the Willows. Nice views over looking the lake, you know, better amenities in the area. What?! Sparrows want to move to the Willows… like Oliver wanting “More”! Who do they, who do they think they are?! They should live in the hedgerows, know their place, carry on having lots of children…
Well, Macbyrd the Raven (Corvus corax), the Mayor of Aviana (the bird constituency) is appalled. Who do those swans think they are, what have they ever done to deserve that position? Why shouldn’t everyone aspire to live in the Willows? The magpies (Pica pica) are also appalled, as they are treated badly, the ‘gypsies’ of the area. Let’s rise up, overturn the social order… come on Macbyrd, your time has come… So Macbyrd kills Cygnus, the male swan, the supreme leader.
So was he right, can killing be justified if it is for the greater moral good? That is the question we are asked.
But the social order continues. Prejudice amongst the ‘oomans means they decide it must be those gypsy magpies who killed the swan. The birds think it was a recent visiting foreigner, an Indian Bush lark blown in on the wind.
Then the sparrows become suspects as the Coots lie about what they saw. But Macbyrd can’t stand for that injustice so he comes clean and admits what he did, and why.
Order and peace is restored, and the sparrows move to the Willows. Oh, and Briony gets her man.
As always with the Rudes, the multiple characters played by the seven actors moved seamlessly from one role to the next. The body movements, the costumes, the timing, the miming, the rhyming was all marvellous as usual, but then I am biased, I love them and go every year! The bird costumes were beautiful and the bird-like movement and sounds of the actors means I can’t hear the crows and magpies in my garden without expecting to see a Rudesactor flapping around my garden!
Oh and did I mention how talented they all are… as if acting in the Commedia dell’arte style wasn’t challenging enough, they all sing and play musical instruments!
Laughter and amusement and wonderment in abundance… do go next year if you have never seen them. Truly worth it… in abundance.
Crowhurst Community Cinema Theme Night – Chicago – 18 Nov 2016
Our fancy dress and supper night – rows and rows of beady necklaces, feathery headgear, and suited and booted speakeasy customers. A chilli dinner, then a powerhouse musical packed with show-stopper dance routines, storytelling songs, comedy, pathos, the satirical and the surreal. And the achingly melancholy Mr Cellophane.
Christmas Carols at the Plough – 14 Dec 2016
A brilliant turn out for a family friendly singalong led by the Crowhurst Community Chorus group and John Sheppard on keyboard. It’s so great to see so many different ages getting together and to hear the magical sounds that arise when people sing together.
A whip round at the end raised £75 for Snowflake, a charity that provides night shelters during the winter for homeless people in Hastings and St Leonards.
Many thanks to Garri and Julie for having us, many thanks to everyone who came along and joined in… a truly lovely community event.