Stoat Hall, by Eastern Angles
12th January 2017
Seckford Theatre in Woodbridge
Another highly entertaining tale written by the excellent local writing team of Pat Whymark and her partner Julian Harries. This time the Eastern Angles performers have to engage their remarkable talents in a tale that takes us back to Tudor England and to the quirky household of Sir Roger de Polfrey, where innuendo and double entendres pop-up so frequently that sometimes its hard to know where one has just finished and the next one starts. With a household already in disarray, the plot quickly thickens, sometimes is completely lost and is soon far more complex and increasingly bizarre as more and more characters are introduced. The cast (there really is only five) also manage to squeeze in some excellent short performances of songs, self accompanied on various musical instruments, which they also played very well, and which gave rare opportunities for the audience to relax.
Described in the programme by Pat as a Tudor/Muppet’s mash-up with a respectful nod to Blackadder and DIY SOS, we are soon all to be engaged in the secret order of the Stoats (I particularly loved their costumes), whilst the fool continues to lament his hopeless love for the amazingly bright and beautiful Rosamund (one of Sir Roger’s daughters), and the extraordinary Alchemist, called John, offers a peep into the darker side of the age. And that is all before the arrival of Henry VIII and his entire travelling court (of over 900 people) that squeezes into the show and changes the mood for the second half. As ever Mrs Giblets arrival was much anticipated and as ever raised many laughs, and it was also great to see her in person after her performance helping to collect money for their nominated charity (see picture).
Whilst all individual performances were very good I particularly enjoyed watching a local man, Richard Mainwaring, in the lead role as Sir Roger and also the extraordinary and highly dynamic performances of Patrick Neyman as he quickly switched from alchemist to (very weird) younger daughter, Hedwig, and then later into the king and back again. Finally I couldn’t help but cheer Violet Patton-Ryder as she appeared for the final time as grandma.
If you have never watched one of Eastern Angles Christmas shows then please put it in you diary for next time. With just a short run in Ipswich, Woodbridge (where I saw it last night) and finally to Peterborough, such a good piece of entertainment deserves to be seen more widely and such talent should be shared to a much larger audience.
For more information visit www.easternangles.co.uk.
– Nigel Smith