Play represents first steps on the long road back

WE’RE back. Yes, and with the big fist of a brilliant production bang in the face of the virus that has blighted Worcestershire’s theatrical life for so long.

Anyone who has ever walked the towpaths of the county’s major waterways and encountered the inhabitants of riverside caravan sites will find this evocative play instantly recognisable.

Writer Peter Terson doesn’t identify the setting, but it is plainly one of the ‘Little Birminghams’ that can be found on the banks of the Severn and Avon rivers.

So. You can take a Brummie out of Brummagem but you can’t take the Brummagem out of a Brummie, in this case the long-suffering Mave and ever-compliant husband Charley.

They have forsaken the factory grime of Selly Oak and departed for a more pastoral paradise where the birds never stop singing and the grass is definitely much greener. Or so they think…

Mave longs to escape the drab certainties of working class life with its noisy factories and rough council estates. She has high hopes for her husband’s career advancement, which she hopes will eventually lift the couple out of the caravan park and place them in the Cotwolds cottage of their dreams.

But they soon find that they’ve swapped one tyranny for another. The caravan park is run by the oafish Mooney and his unsavoury sidekick Dempsey, and they rapidly identify Charley’s willingness to do any job, no matter how menial or disgusting.

Charley’s desperation to escape Selly Oak turns him into a dupe that’s ripe for exploitation by the bullies.

Toby Burchell and Moa Myerson, who started their careers with Malvern Theatres Young Company, most certainly have returned in triumph with their superb, spirited portrayals as the ill-fated couple, desperate for release from servitude, only to find that salvation never comes.

Despite one setback after another, they soldier on as the caravan site turns into a prison camp, a Dante’s inferno of overcrowding, feral children and yobs revving their cars at all hours of the day or night.

You really feel for the couple as the trap of the new servitude snaps shut.

This first major venture by Malvern Theatres since the pandemic changed all our lives should fill us with optimism for the future. Under the steady directorial baton of Malvern Theatres boss Nic Lloyd, there is every reason to believe that this play marks the beginning of a return to normal as we learn to live and cope with the ravages of the coronavirus.

Mooney and his Caravans most surely burns bright as that beacon of hope and is thoroughly recommended. It runs until Saturday (September 19).

John Phillpott

 

 

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