WHISTLE DOWN THE WIND
Chelmsford Young Generation at the Cramphorn Theatre
The simple spirituality of Whistle Down The Wind seems closer to the Middle Ages than to our cynical, secular times. CYGAMS' moving production caught the era nicely, with attention to set-dressing detail, and some near-perfect performances.
Chiefly from the children, the “disciples” who trustingly accept a fugitive as their Saviour. Kathryn Peacock as Cathy, Monique Crisell as her sister Nan and Jack Toland as their cheeky little brother, all convinced us that they were raised in 50s Lancashire, and found a focused emotional energy that made their strange story unbelievably poignant. All the village children were well, and individually, characterized – a special mention to Jackson Buckler's wacky David Edwards.
The youngsters playing the grown-ups had a harder task, perhaps. I liked Sophie Walker's unworldly Miss Lodge, Alex Hilton's unchristian vicar and Sam Toland's bluff Dad. The enigmatic Man, who has the near impossible job of suggesting both Murderer and Messiah, was Luke Higgins, whose haunted, hurt look was just right – he shared the role with Bart Lambert.
The music, by Richard Taylor, makes huge demands on the young singers, but significantly enhances the mood of mystery and suspense. Excellently sung here by principals and chorus, with the score reduced to a couple of keyboards.
The ingenious set, though hard to shift, successfully suggested the spartan farm, and the ending – empty tomb rather than ignominious arrest – was effectively managed. I admired the clever programme design, too.
Whistle Down The Wind was directed by Ray Jeffery, with Bryan Cass the Musical Director.
Photograph by Christopher Yorke-Edwards