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River Lane (Peterborough)

Peterborough is a city of two parts – the very old and the comparatively recent. Eastern Angles' locally-based plays play their part in keeping it all together.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Ella Farrow and friends

River Lane is by stage and radio playwright Tony Ramsay who grew up in Peterborough. His script flows between the early medieval period to the present day, though not consecutively. At its heart is the story of Kaye (Suzanne Tuck) and Tom (Paul Gooding), who we also meet as teenagers (Ella Farrow and Sam Makepeace-Beach) in the 1960s.

Director Naomi Jones and her design team led by Nicky Bunch have sharp eyes for the manners as well as the fashions of this period and the sense of authenticity is spot-on. The boys discuss music, and girls; the girls discuss boys, clothes and music – not necessarily in that order. Acting almost as a Greek chorus are six people representing the ages of Peterborough.

They include a monk from the monastery which developed into the cathedral, an old man with a dog, a bright young Black girl and an amalgam of post-World War II spiv and nightspot doorman-bouncer (Dean Boyall).

Between them they comment on the action, as Kaye's wedding plans go awry, her subsequent on-the-rebound marriage ends in her husband's suicide and the older Tom, bemused in a city where few of the old landmarks remain, meets a recent Polish arrival Ania (Rebecca Owen-Fisher), finding himself drawn into an aspect of the community he never thought to encounter.

River Lane is one climax for the Forty Years On project which has involved Eastern Angles since 2008 when the Arts Council made funding to the company partly dependent on regular work in the city. It complements Parkway Dreams which last year took the new town development of 1968 for its theme. What will be the next play?

River Lane runs at Unit 23, Serpentine Shopping Centre, Peterborough until 18 May.