With a hugely entertaining cast, decease an emotional finale, help an increasingly relevant message in light of recent unrest under the Conservative government and a ground-breaking fresh writing talent, From The Dark Hills is a definite ‘must-see’ of this summer’s Fringe.
Dean Poulter, 21 year old drama student at Queen Mary University of London, astonished crowds at the Queen Mary Theatre Company‘s New Writers festival in March when he emerged with his work From The Dark Hills.
The cast of From The Dark Hills by Stephanie Kubo
Combining a contemporary interpretation of the commedia dell’arte form (an age-old Italian genre, defined by stereotypes masked in make-up using humorous theatrics) with a pressing plot and underlying message, it’s a production that has had spectators both laughing and crying. Along with characters self-narrating as they go and each of the five cast members playing a minimum of five characters that range from spirited young bucks to little old widows, it all sounds pretty exhausting, right? I thought so too. But once you begin watching this highly talented cast bring it to life, you won’t want Ashington’s tale of strife and spirit to end.
Leif Halverson as Jack Dunn by Joseph Turvey
The play is set in Ashington in 1984 and follows the lives of this northern mining town’s working class, during their struggles against industrial strikes and social unrest under the notorious reign of Margaret Thatcher.
It all seems highly appropriate with the recent riots and disorder we’ve experienced across the UK. Dean commented – “I think that if you want to reflect on Thatcher’s politics and leadership in the eighties, you would do well to consider the current political state of our country,” he said. “That is why our play is completely relevant right now.”
Dean described how The Corn Exchange theatre company based in Dublin were the main inspiration for the unique styles of writing and acting. “The works of Michael West, who writes a lot for the Corn Exchange, inspired the text and his works helped me shape a lot of the sentences, the self-narration of characters and the structure of the piece as a whole,” he stated.
Rosa Postlethwaite as Helen Douglas by Gemma Sheldrake
Henry Bishop, Leif Halverson, Hannah Murphy, Rosa Postlethwaite and Tamsin Vincent make up the remarkable cast that will take to the stage at theSpace @ Venue 45 for six nights over the next two weeks.
“The play was so well received when it was first performed,” said Dean, “It’s playful, funny and entertaining but above all it has an important message. So many little communities and towns are struggling today and we are doing our bit to give them a voice.”
All photography by Pawel Blanda
From The Dark Hills demonstrates fast-moving clever comedy at every twist and turn, whilst the characters still snap you back into their tragic reality. It conveys the surprising power of community spirit in Ashington’s response to the effects of the last Conservative government, a plot that sharply aligns with the so-called ‘best and worst’ that we have seen in this, our country, in recent days, and finishes on a thought-provoking message that you will certainly walk away with, after the curtain drops. A definite ?????.
Queen Mary Theatre Company are putting on 4 productions in total within the next fortnight at Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
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- Photography: Ben Meadows at Edinburgh Fringe
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