Like many I studied Cider With Rosie at High School and, while the basic premise sticks in my mind, it is with shame I have to admit I haven’t picked up the book since. Now having seen the marvellous Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds production I am inspired to dig out a copy and re-read it again.
Rural life may suddenly be the flavour of the month thanks to the likes of Larkrise, Cranford and The Victorian Farm but in Daniel O’Brien’s new stage adaptation of Laurie Lee’s classic the lost charm of this way of life has never been more real.
Set against the context of the four changing seasons we are aware of not only time passing but also an era soon to be lost to the modern world, innocence lost in a race to embrace new technology.
What is interesting with this adaptation is we see life not only through the eyes of young Laurie but also through his brothers, sisters, mother and neighbours. This expansion gives a much broader view of village life and offers a range of vivid characters for the cast to sink their teeth into – and they more than rise to the challenge.
Director Abigail Anderson draws out the full poignancy but also the humour in Lee’s words, helped by clever and evocative scoring by TJ Holmes (who also appears in the production).
Designer Dora Schweitzer and Lighting Designer Mark Howland create a visually impressive playground for the cast, who turn everyday objects into a multitude of scenes with filmic quality.
This is a true ensemble performance with not a weak performance among the six strong cast. After its run at Bury ST Edmunds, the show will be touring and is one to catch for a gripping view of a bygone age. A truly outstanding production.