Sunday, 5 December 2010

Celebrations at Kirkby Overblow

All Saints, Kirkby Overblow have just completed an ambitious project which has transformed the pew lined nave of their church into a 'creative and empowering space for both church services and community events' in the words of Stuart Lewis, their parish priest. Last night, and for the two preceding nights, audiences have filled the church for performances of Ranjit Bolt's The Grouch by the Kirkby Overblow Dramatic Society. This was an inspired choice of play by their director, Alice Sheepshanks. The Grouch is a contemporary adaption of Moliere's Le Misanthrope by playwright and translator Ranjit Bolt. It moves Moliere's satirical and witty observation of the hypocrisy of French aristocratic society, first seen in 1666, to 21st century London life. The central character, a well known literary critic, rails against his perception of political correctness-run-mad and hypocrisy during the Blair years. The all important crossing in love, so central to the plot, is accomplished by using the device of the indiscreet email. The reason I thought the choice of play so apt was that, here we were in a medieaval church that has been re-envisioned for contemporary needs and use, seeing a seventeenth century play that has been skillfully reworked to produce a witty commentary on recent political life and changes in society. Yet both the church building and the play remain faithful to the spirit of their original purpose and roots. New possibilites emerging from a true understanding of tradition.

The director and cast carried off a difficult challenge very well indeed and made the characters and situation speak through a script entirely in verse. This was not easy as the stylized verse and the contemporary situation created an initial dissonance which the actors managed to turn to the advantage of the satire. Fairly subtle stuff that called for a confidence many amateur actors do not possess!  David Zucker played the lead with authority. Olivia Murray who played Celia - 'She's pretty, sparkling and witty, it's true, just make sure the joke's not on you' - is right at the beginning of her acting career and is  someone to watch out for.

As Robert Henderson, the producer, told us, the church will be back in use for worship today at 8.30am and with the Christmas services and activites to prepare for, there must be a small army of dedicated volutneers. Thank you for an enjoyable evening, but more than that, showing us what can be done when a community, together, decides to make greater use of the space in its church.  

1 comment:

  1. Janet
    Found it!
    Glad you could come and see what we have achieved. Thank you very much for your kind comments which I will pass on to all the Team. Will keep you informed of future events.
    Best wishes Caroline and Robert