Cider with Rosie

Date 30th November 2017
Society Actonians Drama Group
Venue Iron Acton Parish Hall
Type of Production Play
Director Mark Whitehouse
Musical Director Rob Pardoe


Author: Frankie Telford

I have read Laurie Lee’s book several times but this is the first time I had seen a stage adaptation and this one seemed true to the book.  There are always potential difficulties for staging with adaptations from films, television or books, as frequently the action switches rapidly from one scene to the next.  I liked the concept of the set that director Mark Whitehouse had designed. 

The script refers to the house being down the bank and so had been set on a very low level with a ramp going down from the higher stage level the plain white wall at the back of the stage which could be lit to help change location, with black legs dressed with greenery and roses and the grassy stage were simple but effective.  The pièce de resistance for me was the table/bed/blackboard; it was so clever and so easily converted to the required piece of furniture, excellent.  The carousel was a lovely touch.

The costumes had been well thought out and were appropriate, although I thought that more could have been done with young Laurie Lee to show the passing of time.  Mostly the stage was well lit although there were a few dark areas at the front on occasion.  The sound effects had been well sourced and helped create the feeling of being out of doors with birdsong.  The sound and lighting effects for the storm were good, everything was well cued

The children took responsibility for much of this production and they performed well.  They had all developed individual characters and interacted well with everyone on stage.  They were well disciplined in stagecraft and took their responsibilities seriously and their singing games were lovely.  Loll (young Laurie Lee) gave a mature performance, understanding the importance of the role.  All the adult members of the cast supported the children well.  Loll’s mother conveyed what an impractical dreamer she was and her story telling brought to life her reminiscences of her past.  Miss Crabby was every inch the Victorian school marm and her replacement Miss Wardley a complete contrast.  The two ‘Grannies’ Granny Walton and Granny Trill conveyed the animosity between them, which kept them going.  The narrator of the story was the adult Laurie Lee filling in the bits of the story between the action and for me he was the gentle storyteller I had always imagined him to be.  Everyone had maintained his or her accents well.

I suspect this was a breakaway from the usual mainly adult cast productions of this company, but the audience was very appreciative, with sell out houses and a waiting list for tickets.  Thank you for an enjoyable evening.