Photos Reviews

Blue Remembered Hills

May 2005

by Dennis Potter, directed by Ian Potts


Rose Gander, Eric Hume, Mary Jones, John Marshall


Infant Joy and Infant Sorrow written and performed by Sanchia Hylton-Smith and Ben Beeson engineered by Mike Hylton-Smith

The Poison Tree and The Lamb (version 1) written by Ralph Vaughan Williams, performed by Christopher Redwood and Julia Hill

The Lamb (version 2) written and performed by Jon Asprey


Willie - Christopher Redwood

Peter - Anthony Morris

John - Alan Caig

Raymond - John Marshall

Angela - Margaret Butt

Audrey - Angela Wallwork

Donald Duck - Nick Jones

Production Team:

Director - Ian Potts

Production Manager - Margaret Butt

Stage Manager - Jan Caig

Set - Philip Keen

Lighting - Stuart Yerrell & Hugh Lodder

Sound - Ron Murray & Ben Beeson

Costumes - Isla Morgan

Props - Jean Halliday

Slide Projection - Gordon Halliday & Philip Keen

Prompt - Mary Jones

Publicity - Mary Jones

Posters - Philip Keen

Programme - Philip Jones

Front of House - Lynn Trout


From Express & Echo:

....kept the audience on the edge of their seats until the very end

Estuary Players' fast-flowing Blue Remembered Hills leaves the audience wanting to hear more

The Estuary Players' rendition of Dennis Potter's Blue Remembered Hills was an enthusiastic and enjoyable performance, which kept the audience on the edge of their seats until the very end.

The play, directed by Ian Potts, revolved around a summer afternoon in 1943 with a group of seven-year-olds playing in the forest. But their innocent play turns to taunting and bullying with eventual tragic consequences.

Fans of William Golding's Lord of the Flies would have seen many similarities between Potter's play and Golding's group of boys trapped on a desert island.

Nick Jones's portrayal of the poor, unfortunate, tortured Donald Duck was so realistic that at one point I felt tears sting my eyes.

John Marshall's performance as the gentle, stuttering Raymond was also extremely convincing.

The other cast members also gave polished performances. Although there were just seven members, the action was free flowing and every character had a part to play in telling the story.

Just being able to see some of Topsham's more familiar faces dressed and acting as seven-year old children was reward enough for any audience!

To whet people's appetites before the main performance, William Blake's poems, Songs of Innocence and Experience were recited and also put to music.

Christopher Redwood sang a rousing rendition of the Poison Tree and The Lamb. Jon Asprey's guitar rendition of The Lamb left me wanting to hear more, as did Sanchia Hylton-Smith's haunting, beautiful voice when she sang Infant Joy and Infant Sorrow.

It was also extremely powerful and effective when the quartet of poetry readers performed simultaneously.

- Reviewed by: Becca Gliddon

From Estuary News:

......with an amateur company of rare quality.

'It is the land of lost content ...' In Houseman's poem it seems that memories are reviewed through rose-tinted glasses, which contrasted sharply with the action of Potter's Blue Remembered Hills. Were the 'child' actors a means of exploring adulthood and what was implicit about the memories that connect one with the other? In the case of Dennis Potter and his seemingly restless suffering from the painful skin condition psoriatic arthopathy, it is interesting to note that theories about this condition, reported from time to time, claimed a psychological element underlying the illness. Could the forest of the play be connected to Potter's own memories of a childhood playing in the Forest of Dean?

All the players in Ian Potts' thoughtful production experienced the fears and anxieties of childhood - so persistently symbolised by Angela's ceaselessly hyperactive right leg, shuffling and fidgeting its way from one anxiety to the next; anxieties about belonging or not belonging, with fear of being bullied or rejected as their lives tumbled haplessly into tragedy and the total loss of the sense of control that they all sought by various means.

This Estuary Players production subtly engaged with the question raised by the notion of a 'performance'. The children were 'playing'. But as performers they were also 'playing' in another sense. John Marshall's subdued playing of Raymond, the conspiratorial roles of the girls played by Margaret Butt and Angela Wallwork, the brashness of the boys [Anthony Morris and Alan Caig] all contributed to the impression of a childhood community not fundamentally at ease with itself. Christopher Redwood as Willie and Nick Jones as Donald Duck gave consistently impressive performances. The tragedy of the fire required some technical tricks to achieve but it worked well.

The introductory performance of some poems from Blake's Songs of Experience was intended, as the Director's Notes explained, 'to resonate with certain themes and create a richer texture for the audience'. What the Estuary Players had to achieve was to create, for the audience, a sense of intimate participation with the play. My own view was that this device was successful. Readers, musicians and singers gave sensitive performances and the atmosphere was pervasive. However, I'm not certain that it didn't also have the effect of slowing down some of the early scenes, and a sense of the bustle of the lives of 7-year-olds was, to some extent, reduced.

Altogether, aided by some convincing acting from the whole company, Mr Potts had engineered a fine production. Having seen his visually stunning production of Arturo Ui for Estuary Players in 2002, Blue Remembered Hills confirms a director of vision, intelligence and sureness of touch, working with an amateur company of rare quality.

- Reviewed by: Roger Green


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