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REVIEW: The Croft at The Everyman Theatre, Cheltenham


REVIEW: The Croft at The Everyman Theatre, Cheltenham

As a premier event I knew very little about what to expect from this play. A thriller we are told. Set in the highlands. We assume it’s also set in a Croft. 'The Croft'. This is literally all I had to go on.
 
This was a brave piece of theatre. Five actors. One room. Three (at least) time frames. Overlapping and interconnecting, the characters weave in and out of each other’s lives, decades, and centuries, each bringing a new narrative and perspective on these four walls.
 
This is a play about space and place. About belonging and not belonging, of the stories that we tell ourselves and others. It’s about tradition versus the new, about the timeless threats, imagined and real, that we feel betwixt and between generations.
 
I’ve always loved the notion of the very fabric of a house breathing and living, fuelled by the emotion and stories of those who pass through, the building itself outliving us all - keeping our secrets, trauma and emotion imbedded in its very sinew. I loved this exploration of emotions being so heavy, they cannot fully leave a place.
 
There are of course many deep layers to this brave piece. It confronts the forced evictions (clearances) of highlanders and islanders in the early 1800s, a clearly harrowing time that still resonates today. Yet it also confronts present day issues of connectivity and responsibility, without the two feeling polar apart. I felt that it saved itself from feeling claustrophobic by a clever stage set that embraced the landscape within which the Croft sits, as much as the Croft itself. No mean feat.
 
The three female leads are extremely strong. Immediately likeable and relatable and funny, we care about them and their flaws from the off. We know them. We are them. We feel them. Without googling or scouring the programme, it is obvious that this is a stellar cast with substantial and considerable TV experience. Perhaps it’s its being all set in one room - you are a singular fly on the wall watching deeply personal, yet relatable, raw events unfold.
 
Essentially of course, it’s a love story. Between women, between mothers and fathers and their children, between partners and spouses. This is after all what life is all about. And it’s what our four walls always have, and always will, be privy to.

The Croft starring Gwen Taylor, Caroline Harker, Lucy Doyle , Drew Cain and Simon Roberts runs until Saturday 25 January before embarking on its UK tour.


Rubalie

Explore Gloucestershire
23 January 2020
 


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