Eastern Angles at Brentwood Theatre
"Keep Calm and Carry On" – hard to miss these days, but intended for the darker days of a Nazi invasion, together with "Freedom Is In Peril, Defend It With All Your Might" used in Fabrice Serafino's ingenious set design. And in a memorable coup de theatre, a light box shows us the resistance bunker, the brutal truth behind the slogan.
This is very British guerilla warfare; its struggles, and the stresses of the Home Front, are cleverly combined in the story of an unconventional extended family. Young Wilf [Fred Lancaster], keen on cricket and cycling, motherless, his father at the front, lives with his aunt [Frances Marshall] whose doctor husband is a POW. Her brother-in-law [Matt Addis] will be the Resistance commander, and he recruits the local gamekeeper [Phil Pritchard]. The war brings two outsiders to the village – Prue [Bishanyia Vincent] a young ATS girl, and Alan, a freedom fighter from up north [Pritchard again] who will galvanize sleepy Suffolk for the May uprising of 1943.
Ivan Cutting's narrative cleverly combines fact with conjecture, delivering a chilling alternative history alongside the six human stories.
Naomi Jones's engaging production tracks their developing characters as the calendar pages turn, with some wonderfully moving scenes - most effectively when they recall their last moments, with evocative word pictures of firing squad, hospital ward, wheat fields and the wide Suffolk sky.
production photo: Mike Kwasniak