On a bare stage there are two actors – one young and one older – a piece of farm equipment, a chair and, of course, the words which tell the story. Yet it held the Watford audience (children of all ages as well as their elders) spellbound for over an hour. The story in question is Farm Boy by Michael Morpurgo in a stage adaptation by Daniel Buckroyd for Scamp and New Perspectives theatre companies.
Morpurgo’s War Horse is the prequel to this tale. Joey the horse and his young master Albert have returned to the Devon farm after the end of the First World War. But it’s not the same; rhythms of work unchanged for millennia ar giving way to mechanisation; the tractor has arrived. Three generations down the line, a young city lad spends time with his grandfather before going on his gap year. He’s planning to study engineering at university and a rusting 1920s tractor in the old man’s barn excites his curiosity. How did it get there?
John Walters} as Grandpa (and great-grand father) and [Matt Powell as all the younger generations (not to mention Great-grandma) weave our attention in and out of the fabric of farm life, at once so unchanging in its demands and so fluctuating in its fulfilment. Both give excellent performances, allowing the words as well as actions to people the stage with farmers, their animals and all the accompanying paraphernalia of county life. All very simple but, when presented with this sort of commitment, absolutely spellbinding.