Transporting audiences into a wintery world of seasonal stories and songs, A Gloucestershire Midwinter offers a charming Christmas show from a brilliant cast, paying homage to our county through poetry, nostalgic anecdotes and magical music.
Opening with swirling mist and the entry of four travellers making their journey home for Christmas, the audience at Everyman’s studio theatre was drawn into a wintry world for an hour of storytelling and songs from an excellent cast.
Directed by the Everyman Theatre’s Paul Milton, A Gloucestershire Midwinter offers a celebration of Christmas past and present, where characters reminisce over seasonal memories, from childish ice-skating to comical dilemmas and green dragons.
Exuding cosy Christmas charm from the beginning, the performance brings the past to life thanks to authentic costumes and simple yet effective props, along with memories of mumming and wassailing.
The character-swapping cast from Hammerpuzzle Theatre Company was nothing short of brilliant; blending sentimentality, comedy and drama, while the musical numbers were sung beautifully and with conviction.
Meanwhile, as promised, Gloucestershire references created a lovely local feel to the show; from Edward Thomas’ poem ‘Adlestrop’ to Laurie Lee’s ‘A Cold Christmas Walk in the Country’, the imagery evoked a wonderful glimpse of festivities from a long-lost era.
With comical scenes and uplifting songs, A Gloucestershire Midwinter sprinkled plenty of festive cheer – and even some snow – in the Everyman.
Adapted from two local versions, ‘A Mummers Play’ brought to life the story of gallant Robin Hood complete with some sword fighting and plenty of laughs. Meanwhile, ‘The Tale of Oxbode Lane’ was a highlight, telling the tale of an ox who got stuck in a narrow lane.
What’s more, lively songs such as ‘Here We Come A Wassailing’ and ‘Ring Out Wild Bells’ provided the perfect addition to a heart-warming Christmas performance.
Showcasing their talents as actors and musicians, the musical renditions were brought to life thanks to a piano accompaniment, while extra sound effects such as merry tinkling of bells added to the Christmassy charm.
A rendition of Gustav Holst’s ‘In The Bleak Mid Winter’ was the perfect inclusion, not just for being a classic carol, but for its local connotations; arguably the most famous song during the show, it was a gentle but moving performance.
Finishing with a final festive song and a sprinkling of snow, A Gloucestershire Midwinter combined comedy, nostalgia, music and poetry in a wonderful winter’s tale that celebrates our county, its scenery, and its stories.
A Gloucestershire Midwinter is a truly unique Christmas show; if panto isn’t your thing, or you’re searching for a new festive theatre experience, the uplifting, local show is perfect for something that’s totally different… and totally brilliant.
Make sure to pick up a programme on your way into the studio theatre; containing details of the Gloucestershire sources, it’s an interesting read and offers great context for the show.
By Kathryn Purvis
Thursday 07 December 2017
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