Thursday, 4 June 2015

'Light Shining in Buckinghamshire' National Theatre, Lyttleton ***

War under any circumstances is an immensely bothersome period to those who are actually in those fighting nations, but what is the aftermath in the countries who are quarrelling with themselves? The National Theatre’s production of Caryl Churchill’s 1976 play, ‘Light Shining in Buckinghamshire’ was a stimulating take on the consequences of the English Civil War, plus the performances were well represented.

‘Light Shining in Buckinghamshire’ is set throughout the 1640’s; in particular Putney, 1647 where we witness a scrumptious dinner, well sort of which is being held during the Putney Debates by a collective of government figures because they are celebrating the end of the English Civil War. Conversely, what is most poignant is the effect that has caused the Diggers, Levellers and Ranters, also the understanding of who’ll be able to own their own property and land again, in addition to this, these groups appear they are angry that the army, governed by Olivier Cromwell (Daniel Flynn) and General Ireton (Leo Bill) and the Parliament have taken over the ruling of the country, displacing the monarchies power. Over the course of the performance, there is an essence of apprehension  as changes of history is proving too much to bare for those who are trying to live and not die from malnourishment; for example vagrants, Margaret Brotherton (Ashley McGuire), Man (Alan Williams) and Hoskins (Adelle Leonce). We see how agricultural areas have found the strain due to the English Civil War, and the voice of reason for those struggling is Claxton and Claxton’s wife (Amanda Lawrence). On the other hand, the show allows us to see the unity of the men and women who fought so that the soul of England can survive and the legacy that these people left behind.  Obviously there are problematic situations ahead such as the rebuilding of what has been destroyed due the war and strife.  There are unsettling circumstances for those who are currently poignant; such as Woman with baby, who is being accompanied by her sister-in-law; it does give the impression that is going to be a struggle at this current time. At the finale, a heavily Drunk man (Alan Williams) makes it clear that that even though the Civil War has ended, it is only the beginning and that England will have to start again. Churchill’s narrative is pleasing as we are directed through a point of British history about those civilians who were not given notoriety; paradoxically there are factors within the script that lacks intelligibility which makes it hard for one to fully engage with.

One found the performances by the company of, ‘Light Shining in Buckinghamshire’ were exceedingly well conveyed and the Community Company all from SE1 was an interesting choice to include as part of the cast.  Joe Cafferty is ample as the working man and speaker of the people, Claxton; predominantly when he is speaking in front of those who are residing in the Putney area in which his voice booms throughout the Lyttleton stage and auditorium. Ann Ogbomo is suitable as Woman with baby; expressly how poorly and dishevelled she looks and the encounters she will have to face in a country that needs to remodel itself.  The rest of the company were grand too.

Lyndsay Turner’s direction is excellent here as she has made a revival that transports us to the 17th Century in a nation that has gone through a Civil War, and it does inform those who have no education in his areas at all.  Es Devlin’s set design and Soutra Gilmour’s costume designs are wonderful as the two of them have collaborated with such success as both the set and costumes are masterpieces. Moreover as these two are at the top of their game within the industry and are favourites of mine it’s nice to see them working together. Overall, the experience of, ‘Light Shining in Buckinghamshire’ was a good interpretation of a period of history,  nonetheless, Churchill’s script is somewhat puzzling  at times. 

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