Where: Inner London
3 October 2005 WOS Rating: Average Reader Rating: Reader Reviews: View and add to our user reviews We're obviously in a bit of a retro phase at present. Having just welcomed back a revamped , here's a more or less untouched `golden oldie' from 1978 and Bill Bryden's tenure at the National's Cottesloe Theatre. Bryden then was on a roll. Under his stewardship and a famously loyal ensemble, promenading became all the rage. Out of it came Hair and this gentle evocation with the unforgettable folk music of John Tams and the Albion Band, of farming life in 19th century rural England. The Mysteries
, adapted by Keith Dewhurst from Flora Thompson's popular trilogy into two parts, Lark Rise to Candleford Lark Rise and Candleford, told the story of Thompson's memories of growing up in a quiet Oxfordshire village before the Great War. As such it's a story of a forgotten way of being and whilst Lark Rise at least ( Candleford joins this week) boasts little of the darkness that makes Synge's Irish peasant accounts so stabbing, this revival by Shapeshifter (acclaimed for their production last year of Hochhuth's Soldiers) is a triumphant affirmation of the Finborough itself in its 25th anniversary year.
With barely room to swing a cat,
Alex Marker's wooden platforms and steps work wonders, representing a whole variety of situations from fields to homes to streets to pubs. But the real beauty of John Terry and Mike Bartlett's production is, as it was with Bryden, the experience created by a wonderful ensemble, as adept as singers and musicians (with new musical arrangements by Tim van Eyken) as they are at conveying the communal bonds that bind them together.
Nothing is rammed home. Women gossip, a soldier returns from the Russian front then leaves again; another one, now destitute, is hauled off to the workhouse. But as with all important theatre, it's the way it happens that counts. Blanche Marvin's Peter Brook inspired Empty Space award made this production possible – and the award’s namesake would be proud of a production that measures its achievement in patient detail and luminous honesty.
Theatre doesn't always have to be all dash and crash. Here's a reminder, even in our breathless times, of theatrical magic as simply the art of observing the steady pulse of life. And in the communal dance at the end, of joyously taking part.
- Carole Woddis
Lark Rise and Candleford can be seen individually or, on Saturdays, together. Related Content
Score Comment Date I don't know which play this reviewer saw- but I watched Larkrise to Candleford at the Theatre Royal Brighton last night. A lacklustre performance with no plot. Anyone who thought it would be as entertaining as the tv production was sorely disappointed. It drifted through the evening with sloooooooooooow dialogue and as with other theatres-some of the audience left at the interval. If I hadn't been so close to the stage I would have left too but was embarrassed for the actors feelings! - Heather McNiven 05 Oct 10
Subscribe to our free newsletter
Featured Editor's Picks
: The economic impact of Arts & Culture in the UK Infographic When Culture Secretary Maria Miller called for the arts to make their "economic case" for subsidy, t... Plays Cast: Harry Potter star in Southwark Moment, more for Branagh's Macbeth Bonnie Wright, best known for playing Ginny Weasley in the Harry Potter films, will make her stage d... Brief Encounter with ... The Kite Runner's Ben Turner Ben Turner stars in the stage version of the bestselling book The Kite Runner, which runs at Liverpo... Titus Andronicus (RSC) This latest production of Shakespeare's Titus Andronicus, to borrow from football punditry, is a p... : Britain's outdoor theatres Take Five With half-term approaching, the weather (hopefully) set to improve for the bank holiday weekend and ... West End Live returns to Trafalgar Square next month West End Live, a weekend of free entertainment from top London shows, will return to Trafalgar Squar... : 'I carry the ghost of Gregory Peck on my shoulders' Robert Sean Leonard Actor Robert Sean Leonard is currently playing Atticus Finch in Timothy Sheader's production of To K... To Kill A Mockingbird Twenty years ago, a young Robert Sean Leonard appeared on the London stage with Alan Alda in... X Factor musical titled I Can't Sing!, opens Palladium March 2014 The forthcoming X Factor musical will be called I Can't Sing! The Musical and will premiere at the L... Donmar stages Nick Payne premiere, Wesker's Roots & Tom Hiddleston in Coriolanus The Donmar Warehouse has announced its new season, which features the premiere of Nick Payne's new p...