As the full moon rises, the lives of Little Bevan begin to entwine, and arcane truths make themselves known to others on this rural tour of darkly comic humour.
When you enter the hall, immediately your eyes are drawn to the thrust stage in the centre of the room, covered in turf and raised to mimic the rural landscapes of the towns the play is about and performed in. Later this turf will be removed to reveal a second layer of set- the ground of a forest. Then again, this set will slant to form a landslide and then raise to mimic the dark ceiling of an underground passage. The constant dynamic alteration of set was unlike anything I had seen in theatre before and, from looking at the facial expressions of audience members, captivated them too. I felt the continuous movement of actors and set represented the lives of Little Bevan and how village life is often perceived as mundane by onlookers, however for the inhabitants it is quite different.
Then, cue actors. All three enter and surround the audience, their haunting chants creating an ambience of the mystery and ancient forces that would go on to weave themselves into the modern lives of those in the village. I found the use of just three actors very effective because it meant they were able to maximise the small stage, keep the audience’s focus and somehow manage to fill the 10 roles required, as well as charismatically narrating thoughts of each character. The casual way in which each actor spoke to members of the audience caused them to feel as though they were members of the village and increase their investment in each character. As a young person, I believe that within the play they represented generations very well, with 15-year-old Mikey’s constant phone checking and endeavour at online dating, catchphrase of ‘Oh God…’, constant anxiety and explorations of sexuality. Then Gill, organiser of all village events, embodiment of community spirit, observer of the secrets in the village and experiencer of marriage difficulties. Finally Tony, older, failed writer with a keen penchant for history and the myths of the village, grieving, lonely and lover of Indiana Jones.
In particular, my favourite scene was at the end when the parallel of age between Tony and Mikey (who were sat back to back) portrayed unlikely friendship and support found in times of need. The moment was emphasised by the contrast of Gill confronting those whom she had felt deserted her when she had needed it most.
It must be mentioned that the use of sound on set was incredibly effective. The actors used very few props in their performance, however they were chosen well. At crucial points in the play, an actor would play a few notes on the ukulele, guitar, bass or wind instrument to emphasise the emotions or suspense in a scene. Motifs dotted throughout the play portrayed the otherworldly-ness of the saint of course, but I found also highlighted the magic and individuality found in rural towns and villages. Alternatively, all three would burst into a song…for instance, elderly Pat’s comedic rendition of the village notice board that was subtly infused with hints of a lonely senior, demonstrated by the lack of sale by her car. It was incredibly imaginative to have a single bike wheel spun to demonstrate a bike and a thumb piano to represent a text conversation!
It was heart-warming to hear that the actors as well had enjoyed their time acting and touring…I thoroughly enjoyed this piece of drama, its catchy songs and storyline and highly recommend that if it ever tours again to go and see it!
SHOW TITLE: THE TALE OF LITTLE BEVAN
ACTORS: OWEN AARONOVITCH, ANNIE GRACE, ANDY PEPPIETTE
VENUE: LUDLOW ASSEMBLY HALLS
REVIEW DATE: 30/11/19