The Strange Undoing of Prudencia Hart

Blackthorpe Barn

17th May 2017

Where to begin?  Indulge me for a moment, whilst I put last night’s performance in a personal context.  I had avoided any show previews or previous reviews.  I knew nothing about this play before last night.  Also, it is not long since I discovered the joys of ‘The Stramash’ at the Royal British Legion Lodge in Dufftown, Moray.  Finally, we arrived at Blackthorpe Barns having just come from the launch of FolkEast in Leiston.

The relevance of these things will become clear as I tell you about Prudencia.  She is a scholar.  Her chosen subject are ballads, folk ballads.  Her story is set in a Scottish pub – not unlike that lodge in Dufftown.  That story starts with a Ceilidh – a gathering of friends who share stories in music, just like they do throughout Eastfolk.

But not for Pru the passionate subtleties of the ballad (I feel I can call her Pru, she was after all, dancing on our table).  Her interest in folk music is academic. Dry facts and dates collected and catalogued, and presented to fellow academics at folk studies conferences.

It is at one of these conferences that we meet Colin, the brash motorcycle riding, iPhone touting, social media savvy modernist, with that irritating Kylie Minogue ringtone on his phone that I still can’t get out of my head!  Ah yes, the stage is set for a love story.  But not before becoming somewhat surreal, in a tale in which the devil features and hell, we are led to believe, is a B&B in Kelso with a view of the Asda car park.

David Greig’s cleverly constructed story draws you in and this Eastern Angles production is a joy.  Hannah Howie (Prudencia) is utterly believable as the prudish academic.  Her faith in our small table to sustain her passionate performances is to be commended.  The facial expressions of Simon Donaldson (Nick) transformed him for the jovial guitarist in the band to the slightly out of tune soloist in the pub, to that odd character who left no footprints in the snow.  Elspeth Turner (Siolaigha – it’s a poncy spelling of Sheila!) kept us all in order as she narrated us through this delightful tale – not least with songs and fiddle playing.   One of the abiding memories of the night will be the CrazyFrog-esque motorcycle ride through the audience by Robin Hemmings (Colin).  Though I must admit, Prudencia ripping Colin’s trousers off right in front of me was… well, very close to the action!

This is a rollicking good night’s entertainment.  Well presented, produced and performed.  Go as I did without perceptions, let yourself be drawn in, and you will find yourself saying in years to come “Do you remember the night we went to see Pru?”  You will then chuckle at a memory.

Modesty prevents me from reviewing my own minuscule cameo part as Geoff, the sex slave at the lock-in.  I still have bits of feather boa to remember it by….  Did I mention it was surreal at times?

No story rooted in folk music would be complete without, well music! Our quartet of actors are also musicians and as anyone who has ever been to a folk club will know, every band has CDs to sell at the merch table at the end of their performance.  No, seriously there is a CD to be bought as you leave, recorded at Punch Studios and featuring the entire cast plus Arran Glass  – well worth a tenner!

You can still catch performances of this Eastern Angles spring tour, see below. Treat yourself!

18 MAY Thursday 7:30PM   Roe Hill Hall, Hatfield

19 MAY Friday 7:30PM   Kimbolton Mandeville Hall

20 MAY Saturday 3:30PM   Woodbridge Community Hall

20 MAY Saturday 7:30PM   Woodbridge Community Hall

21 MAY Sunday 3:30PM   Woodbridge Community Hall

23 MAY Tuesday 7:30PM   Kirton Church Hall

25 MAY Thursday 7:30PM   Easton Farm Park

26 MAY Friday 7:30PM   Woolpit Village Hall

27 MAY Saturday 7:30PM   The Cut, Halesworth