Friday, 15 July 2022

Under Milk Wood

The inhabitants of Llareggub are asleep. They dream. They wake. They continue to dream. They go about their daily business. This being Wales, they sing. They meet and part and disagree and weep and love and complain and rejoice. They sleep again. Their world continues to turn, as does ours.

Dylan Thomas created this extraordinary world across many years, but it was first performed as ‘a play for voices’ in 1953 in New York, with Thomas himself as the First Voice and the Revd Eli Jenkins. The characters are at once familiar and supernatural, hilarious and tragic, disturbing and reassuring. Thomas referred to earlier versions of the play as ‘the town that was mad’; but who is to say what is ‘normal’, what is eccentric and what is insanity?

Photography: Andrew Evans

"I just wanted to take a moment to thank you for bringing Dylan Thomas’ words and characters to life so beautifully. It’s a long time since I manned the follow spot for the Theatre Royal Jr Studio version of the play, so I reacquainted myself during the set build and painting by listening to the Richard Burton version on something of a loop. I’m not given to hyperbole, so trust me when I say that the Burton version fades to a pale shadow in comparison to what you all brought to those words. The nuanced pathos, fun and dark caustic humour that you found was remarkable. Where the Burton version provided sketches, you gave vibrant oil paintings. Your residents of Llaregub were no mere caricatures, but became real people with real lives, hopes, joy, sadness and frailties. I never really ‘got’ UMW before – some pretty words with postcard characters. Now I do. Thank you." Myles Crowder (our set builder, after watching the show on the last night)

"I really enjoyed it, but I admit I was a bit nervous.  I have been in 2 productions of the play and the second production had at least 3 runs, so I have a deep affection for the piece.  However, I had never seen a live production of the play.  Would I enjoy it?  I did! It was a very good piece of ensemble acting; brilliant use of the space and the evening was a great success.  Direction, as always, is the key, so well done and thank you for bringing Dylan Thomas’ Llareggub to life so effectively." Leah

"There have rarely been times in my life when I simply can't find superlatives strong enough to describe the experience! Such an experience was this afternoon's performance of Under Milk Wood! It stretched my emotions to the limit - I laughed, I almost cried and at the end I was so full I could not speak! This was simply the best thing I have ever seen at this superb little Norwich Theatre. The acting was superb, every nuance was drawn from the wonderful Dylan Thomas prose by the cast. The direction was a masterclass! The actors moved subtly but skilfully like pieces in a championship chess match. At the end I simply stood and applauded and just wished and wished that I had been part of it!" Robin

"...this is a show you should not miss. A brilliant presentation of a familiar classic which covers every moment of life from birth to death and all the human passions that make our short lives so full. Poignant but life-affirming, this show will send you home smiling and considering a second visit." Julian Swainson, Norwich Eye (click here for the full review)

"A truly memorable, atmospheric production of Under Milk Wood. Full of warmth, humour, pathos and a beautiful musical score - this is a magical evening of escapism. What a fantastic ensemble piece, congratulations to everyone who took part both on, and off, stage." Karen

"I will try to express how much I enjoyed your production of “Under Milkwood”, because I was very moved by the performance: Softly, gently, the little village of Llaragub came to life last night, then slipped back into a quiet sleep until the next time. Together you transformed Thomas’s verbal masterpiece, giving just the right amount of “action” to create a visual delight. The characters were beautifully, sympathetically drawn. The whole was, for me, a most enjoyable experience. A big “thank you” and congratulations to you and all your team." Sue 

"Went to see this wonderful production of Under Milk Wood last night - it was superb!!! Huge well done to all the cast & especially their talented director Cassie Tillett...  Highly recommended." Gina

"It was a triumph!!! A very difficult task to stage such a complicated "play for voices". The narrative was amazingly delivered without a hitch and the author's sense of humour was very apparent. I loved it!!! It is such a clever play and I felt the cast brought out its complexity and fun." Jackie

"Just wanted to say what a mesmerising performance you treated us to last night. I find it hard to believe that your cast are not professional actors - that makes me sound like Nadine Dorries, heaven forbid. How did  they remember the lines of so many characters and the narrator? Mesmerising for the beautiful delivery of the poetry and the ability to turn on a sixpence from such pathos to bawdy songs and all the emotions in between and it never jarred - just all the stories of ordinary people. Thank you for all the hard work that obviously went into the production and all the best for the coming performances." Jan

"Wonderful evening at the Sewell Barn's 'Under Milk Wood' last night! I've loved the play since being Myfanwy Price in Anne Giles' 1996 production - and this brought back all sorts of happy memories! Thank you for a highly enjoyable and cleverly original show. Don't miss it!" Frances

(Message to director) "I just wanted to say how much I enjoyed Under Milk Wood last night.  I loved the way you staged it and your talented cast really brought life and energy to the different characters. The music / songs were also wonderful.  Well done to all involved." Trudy

"Heartily recommend Under Milk Wood at the Sewell Barn. 13 actors completely in tune with each other; including the lovely Joy Davidson as the guide in a voice over. Fine and humorous ensemble acting. Thoughtfully directed by Cassie Tillett. All in all, a wonderful evening." Becky

"I totally endorse Becky’s review [above] and wish to add how impressed I was with the tonal qualities of the costuming, the placing of the rostra and stools with the cobbles design. Congratulations too for the subtlety of the lighting changes and the amount of movement you created. Thank you for the best evening out for me in a long time." Jan

"This was excellent. Always a hard task when actors play several roles, but the characterization made it very clear who was being who. The music was very good indeed - especially the Evening Prayer. I always expect high standards from this company, and this surpassed it. (It was sad not to see Anne [Giles] flitting about in one of her many capacities, but good that she was acknowledged on the programme.)" Nick

"I much enjoyed the show last night. It was a beautifully judged, superbly paced and impressively executed production. The work clearly presents challenges in its transfer to the stage but I think these challenges were met with aplomb. I'd certainly agree with the reviewer who highlighted the fine ensemble playing; in the circumstances, it would perhaps be inappropriate to single out individual performances. Congratulations to all concerned and good luck with the remainder of the run." Peter

"The Sewell Barn never ceases to amaze with its incredible variety of shows in every season, and Under Milk Wood is no exception. Twelve talented performers create a intriguing and sometimes moving community of humanity. Ultimately, a thing of beauty. Not to be missed." Barnaby

"Under Milk Wood. Fantastic. Acting, directing both awesome. [We] were blown away by how well it was brought to life! Go see it!" James

"The production’s success comes from the strength of the ensemble, who bring this at once romantic and tawdry Welsh village to life through the power of their presence." James Goffin, Cultivated (click here for full review)

"Loved it. Great cast, great direction, great musical moments. Fabulous." Ros

"I've seen six productions of Under Milk Wood since the 1960s, and this was the best." Audience comment to cast member

"We loved it. Well done to all ." Jane




Saturday, 25 June 2022

Anne Giles: RIP

The following announcement was posted to Facebook on 23 June 2022. Since then, we have received so many lovely tributes to Anne - by email and by comments to the original posting - that we felt it appropriate to share some of them here. The comments below are just a small selection of the love and happy memories that have been shared.


We are very sad to announce the passing of one of our longest-standing, most active and loyal members. Anne was well known across the Norwich theatre family, with her roots at the Barn, for acting, directing, stage managing, costume management, props management, front of house, committee service and much more, across the last four decades. Her last stage management role was for 'Three Russian Encounters' in November/December 2021, and her last stage performance was as Cora in 'Waiting in the Wings' in July 2019. She will leave the most enormous gap in our lives.

We were notified by her friend Ian, who assisted and cared for her in the last months of her life, as follows:

"Anne Giles passed away peacefully at Priscilla Bacon Lodge in the early hours of the 19th June, 2022. Her funeral will take place at Earlham Crematorium, Norwich on Friday 1st July, 2022 at 4.15 pm.

Anne asked for bright colours to be worn. No flowers please. A memorial is planned for a later date, yet to be confirmed.

Donations for Priscilla Bacon Lodge. A range of options including online, cheque, Gift Aid and text may be found at their site: https://www.priscillabaconhospice.org.uk/donate/."

A memorial will be held, as Anne requested, at the Sewell Barn Theatre. The date has been set for Sunday 31 July, 1.30 for 2.00 pm and continuing through the afternoon, and further arrangements for this will be sent out to our mailing list nearer the time.

In loving memory of a loyal, energetic, dedicated and wholly remarkable woman.

***

We were pleased to have been contacted by the local newspaper to create an article about Anne, and Robert Little liaised with the reporter to produce a lovely article; click here to read it.

"She represented to me the spirit of drama as the irrepressible and unstoppable desire and capability to be there, get it done, make it work and have fun whilst doing so, even in the chilly spaces of Ropemakers. She always said: 'I'll do that' , however daft it was, and that characterised her as actor, director, stage manager, and all-round genie. If you didn't know how to make to happen, ask Anne. You wouldn't get off easily, but you would always come away the richer. From schools to museums to public spaces to the soul of the Barn, this small body filled the theatre world of Norwich, and it will be infinitely poorer without her.  With great sorrow and huge respect." Ralph

"A quick resumé of Anne's involvement with Norwich Historical Dance over more than 30 years: dancer; committee member, serving as (a very efficient) treasurer for several years; always on hand to help with costumes whether in making, lending or searching the Sewell Barn wardrobe so we could hire items. She was so reliable and enthusiastic, a lovely member of the group, and we miss her dearly." Amanda [Norwich Historical Dance]

"Absolutely heartbreaking news. It was an absolute privilege to work alongside her in many productions on stage & off. I can't believe it. She once told me I was a nightmare to find costumes for because I was "shaped like a barrel". I often remember that conversation fondly. I adored her dry wit, it always made any show with her such a joy." Colin

"Anne wasn't just a theatrical colleague but also a very dear friend for something like 40 years. Anne was the one that persuaded me to step into stage management and we worked together many, many times as SM or ASM. I will miss sharing a glass or 3 of red whilst discussing forthcoming projects. I will miss the phone calls... The ones that started with "Hi Ady, it's Anne. just phoned for a quick chat" - an hour later we would hang up after sorting absolutely nothing. Most of all I will miss a very dear friend. RIP Anne xx" Adrian

"Anne was a Cast roleplayer right from the beginning when Cast was first set up in 2011 and she only stopped roleplaying towards the end of 2020.  She delivered 50+ roleplay sessions for us during that time with always excellent feedback from people who worked with her. That's quite a record, and we hope she gained great satisfaction from knowing that she helped hundreds of medical students (and others) to prepare themselves for the world of 'real patients' and a whole host of challenging situations they face out there." Vera

"She will be one that goes down in the history of the Barn as an incredibly hard working member who was prepared to turn her hand to anything. From my own point of view when I was involved in directing, she was a tower of strength always willing to step in when needed, be it stage managing or helping to paint a set. She enjoyed being on stage just as much as anyone, and would be there on a Sunday in her rubber gloves to help put the stage back together again for the next show. She had boundless energy and enthusiasm for all that she undertook and will be much missed by all of us who knew her over many years." Jenny

"I’m so very sad to read this. Anne took me under her wing in my first ever meeting at the Barn and made me so welcome. Then years later made [my daughter] so welcome too. Such a strong, indomitable, dedicated and very caring lady. I’m so lucky, proud and privileged to have known Anne. Love to everyone." Ruth

"Anne was fun, funny and terrifying. All at the same time!" James

"One of the best. I remember my first ever audition. I was almost in tears, thinking I had totally messed it all up... Anne was in the foyer and sat and gave me a pep talk and cheered me up. She was kind, supportive and funny. I find it difficult to imagine the Barn or the Puppet theatre without her there. She will be missed by so many." Marie

"A sad day. I think it is fair to say she was a legend. I'll miss her. Blessed be." David

"Oh. So, so sorry to hear this. I'll always remember Anne for her indomitable spirit, wicked sense of humour and 'can do' spirit. A real lady, a true professional and a gorgeous spirit." Matthew

"Oh my goodness, such a huge shock and great loss to Norwich. I recently had the pleasure of choosing Elizabethan costumes for a project and it was delightful to spend time with Anne chatting Elizabethan fashion and all the friends we share in common. RIP to a great lady." Sarah

"Bless you, Anne. It's people like her who makes the world go round, especially the theatre world." Gill

"A wonderful, helpful lady who had huge knowledge of historical costume and helped us out at Fakenham College/High in the 80's and 90's. She was full of enthusiasm and I will never forget her supportive comments and sense of humour." Jill

"In the short time I’ve been involved at the Barn, Anne’s warmth, energy and commitment have been evident absolutely everywhere: a huge loss to the community." Shelagh

"Formidable and terrifying and passionate, caring, funny, hardworking and committed... So, so sad to hear of her passing oh, but boyyo, she did give a good performance!" Angela

"Very sad to hear this. Anne and I had a great double act for school Victorian days at Gressenhall for several years. Such a character and we shared a lot of laughs together. RIP, Mrs Clackett." Rachel

"Oh my God. How awful. I adored Anne, she was always such a force of nature and took no prisoners. She’s the reason I volunteered there for as long as I did, she was phenomenal." Meg

"Extremely sorry to hear the news of Anne. She - like Terry [Dabbs] - was a true stalwart of the Barn Theatre whom I got to work with all too seldom. However, I regularly watched them both in performance and met them socially around the place when I was able to be regular there. Both were really talented and lovely people who will be much missed." Noel

"Anne was the heart and soul of the Tiebreak Theatre company office for decades and was instrumental in setting up our touring circuit around schools and art centres. She was known for her cheerful, fun approach by actors, stage crew, funding bodies - and myself. RIP Anne." David

"Happy memories of Anne dancing at Mannington on numerous charity occasions over 30 plus years and her friendliness at Puppet Theatre and Sewell Barn where my husband and I were Thursday night ‘regulars’." Laurel

Saturday, 4 June 2022

Orca

Midsummer. The village must choose a new Daughter to sail with the fishing boats and bless the waters, keeping them safe from the roaming orcas for another year. Fan hopes with all her heart to be the one they choose. But her older sister Maggie says she must never, never, go with the boats. Because something happened to Maggie out there. And no one will admit it. 

Photography: Sean Owen of Reflective Arts

"My first visit to the Sewell Barn Theatre tonight was excellent. Thank you to the whole cast for a really well-paced, thoughtful, emotional and powerful performance. It was a delight to be in a new theatre, watching excellent performances in a play I had never seen. Thank you. I look forward to more. All the best, for your upcoming performances." Marston

"I saw an excellent performance last night of this sensitive, at times very dark, play by Matt Grinder, directed by Sabrina Poole. It has it all - a stellar cast, superb set design, hauntingly beautiful original score, intelligent and intuitive direction. Well done and congratulations for this truly admirable team effort." Karen

"This was stunning and beautifully done. As a professional who specialises in with this subject matter, it was sensitively and accurately portrayed and was respectful to all of those who have gone through similar events. Well done to the cast, crew and Sabrina for putting on such an emotive show." Michelle

"...haunting, chilling, classic story with some great performances and imaginative set and sound once again." Shelagh

"It was brilliant from start to finish. One of the best plays I have seen." Kayte

"Saw a lovely production of Orca at the Sewell Barn last night ... well perhaps not lovely... riveting. Uncomfortable narrative but splendidly acted and intelligently directed by Sabrina Poole. Audibility was a bit of a problem for me but  I am a deaf old git as everyone at the theatre is aware. Well done everyone." David

"Quality play with some ingenious staging. A little disturbing, but that's the way I like my drama..." Marie

"Deeply unsettling. Brilliant casting. Superb performances." Doug

"Absolutely loved it. Should be on a bigger stage. Actors were phenomenal." Gabrielle

"Sabrina Poole’s direction and Myles Crowder’s clever inverting set keep things simple but captivating, with 90 minutes of increasingly uncomfortable foreboding." James Goffin at Cultivated - click here for full review

"Just seen another brilliant Sabrina Poole production with her trademark ingenious set designs and innovation.  The cast and crew did so well with this emotionally charged piece of theatre, especially Sarah Jenkins who lead the narrative with true emotion.  Another highlight was the music, most of which were original compositions ... get yourselves along to see 'Orca' at Sewell Barn." Laura

"I went to see the above tonight and wanted to say how much I enjoyed the performance. It was powerful stuff, well written and brilliantly performed. Wonderful set and fabulous cast." Ayshea

"Brilliant - emotional. Very well done. Don't miss this one." Vicky

"Congratulations to Sabrina Poole and all her team at the Sewell Barn Theatre for another enthralling evening’s theatre! Orca isn’t an easy play for subject but the direction and the performances are masterly, particularly from Sarah Jenkins, with a heartbreaking range of emotions, and Emma Smith as the two sisters. Wonderful chance to think through the difficult issues raised. Which are? Well you’ll just have to come and see it, won’t you!" Selwyn Tillett [Secretary, Sewell Barn Management Committee]

"I thought the play was absolutely brilliant, so well acted and the set was amazing too.. Please pass on my congratulations to Sabrina and all the cast and crew." Ruth

"Sewell Barn Theatre theatre this evening for Sabrina Poole’s production of Orca. Beautifully directed and performed. A disturbing tale beautifully told. Well done all." Robin

Sunday, 24 April 2022

Edith - In the Beginning

In the summer of 1939 Britain was preparing for war but above the River Deben in sleepy Suffolk a different battle was taking place, one that revolved around a much earlier invader. When Mrs Edith Pretty invited local archaeologist Basil Brown to have a go at excavating the enormous mounds on her land, she was confident that he would find something. It was to be one of the most important finds in British archaeology.

The discovery of the Sutton Hoo treasure has recently received worldwide fame through the Netflix film, The Dig. This alternative interpretation was originally commissioned by the National Trust and performed at Sutton Hoo in 2019 to commemorate eighty years since the discovery of the burial ship and we are proud to be launching its amateur première.

Photography: Andrew Evans

“…this is at heart a sensitive and enjoyable depiction of a relationship that brought us one of the most momentous historic discoveries of the Twentieth Century. That is some achievement, and Director Robert Little and the Sewell Barn team can be proud of their accomplished production.” Julian Swainson, Norwich Eye [click here for full review]

"It was a really accomplished performance all round. The cast and crew deserve lots of praise for a really absorbing and interesting show. The Sewell Barn Theatre is a lovely, intimate setting and it’s ideal for this sort of show." Ray Tempesta - East Anglian Theatre Podcast

A fascinating show at the Barn tonight - the story of the discovery of the Sutton Hoo treasure. And we were also made aware of the impact of the First World War and the coming of the second. Using documentary form,  Karen Forbes' play explores the impact of the finding of the treasure on individuals' lives through the use of voiceover, flashbacks and naturalistic scenes. Lauren Baston gives backbone to the piece as Edith Pretty and conveys her role with strength and sensitivity. As Basil Brown, Andy Lofthouse is appropriately awkward and enthusiastic in equal measure. They are ably supported by the rest of the cast but in particular, Judi Daykin deserves special mention for her beautiful singing as Queen Raedwald - enough to send shivers down your spine! Sound, projections and lighting enhanced the story with impressive work from  Chad Mason whose voiceovers as Colonel Pretty and Churchill were moving and effective. Congratulations to all! Clare Williamson [Joint Artistic Director, Sewell Barn Theatre]

"If you're looking for a show today, I really do recommend this one! Such heartfelt performances from the cast, telling a fascinating local story." Joanna F





Saturday, 5 March 2022

The Father

 “I feel as if I’m losing all my leaves.”

Why do strangers turn up at André’s door? Why won’t his meddlesome daughter leave him alone? He’s perfectly capable, isn’t he?

The Father plunges us into an increasingly befuddling world, where André’s confusion collides with his powerful sense of self and his long-held convictions. As we become immersed in André’s reality, time shifts, doubts creep, and loyalties are questioned. The play confounds with brutal humour and sinister twists, keeping us in its raw, emotional grip as it explores, Lear-like, the power of love between parent and child.

Photography: Sean Owen

We have been delighted by audience responses (many of which involved a lot of Kleenex and stunned silences) to this powerful production. 

"All six cast members give exceptionally strong performances. John Dane is convincing as a once proud man struggling with a loss of identity and awareness while still trying to hang on to what always mattered to him. The other five cast members handle the transitions between characters so well that at first you doubt your own sanity – which is the point of this play. Go and see this play, and remember it next time you cast your vote, local or national. We are supposed to be a civilised society, but we regularly fail people with dementia and those who support them in their everyday struggle with a condition that only gets worse. It might seem odd, but even though this play covers a difficult subject it is an enjoyable performance superbly delivered." Julian Swainson, Norwich Eye [click here for full review]

"John Dane puts in a stellar performance as André, the titular father who is losing his grip on the world around him... This is not an easy watch, but a rewarding one." James Goffin [click here for full review]

"Such an excellent production from all aspects. Performance. Direction. Design. Sound. Excellent to see." Stash K

"Superb in every way! All round excellence from director and cast. I was riveted to my seat throughout the performance!" Robin S

"Oh my… just come out of a fantastic performance of ‘The Father’ - I’m in bits! In a good way. John Dane as André just amazing. Bravo.  If you’re in Norwich, see it!" Nicky B

"An excellent show - performance perfect." Jonathan R

"What a powerful production, I'm lost for words. Such moving performances by Jenny Belsey and John Dane... huge congratulations to all involved. Great to see Trevor Burton at The Sewell Barn again." Ruth H

"I saw the play on Friday evening and was particularly moved by John Dane's performance. It was a gripping piece of theatre." Leah S

"Six perfect performances, headed by the astonishing John Dane. An extraordinary and desperately moving script. First-class direction from Chris Bealey. A truly remarkable set. Haunting lighting and sound. Dark humour and intakes of breath. An audience stunned into total silence at the end, broken only by sniffs and nose-blowing. Please go see. And take the Kleenex." Cassie Tillett [Joint Artistic Director, Sewell Barn Theatre]



The show plays Thursday 3 to Saturday 5 March and then again from Wednesday 9 to Saturday 12 March, all at 7.30pm, plus a matinee at 2.30pm on 12 March.

Tickets are available from www.ticketsource.co.uk/sewellbarn or 0333 666 3366. Numbers strictly limited to a maximum of 60 per performance for your comfort and safety. 

Saturday, 22 January 2022

Woman in Mind

Ayckbourn’s tragic-comic play is a dark, incisive examination of the plight of a trapped, unappreciated and unfulfilled woman. Susan has invested time and emotional energy in her marriage and family but self-sacrifice has not brought her happiness. Her husband is insensitive and indifferent, her sister-in-law interferes and she is estranged from her son. As a coping mechanism, she has created in her mind the perfect fantasy family who adore and cherish her. However, an eventual blurring of the worlds of fantasy and reality has devastating consequences for her.

Photography: Barry Parsons

Our production opened on Thursday 20 January, and we have been delighted with responses of audiences.

"It blew my mind!! Such stellar performances from everyone involved, especially the amazingly talented Mandy Kiley. Everything about this performance, including the sets, sound, lighting and costume were so professional! Well done everyone." Wendy A

"I would just like to say I went to the play last Thursday with three friends, and we all thought the production was fantastic. The acting was so good I was totally absorbed the whole time, I did laugh out loud but never lost sight of the disintegration of the lead character. Could you please pass on our appreciation to all those who took part." Margaret L

"Great performance, and thought provoking as well as thoroughly entertaining. Professional performances by all. My first visit too, already planning to come to the next show." Robin S

"Sometimes you need a little space to breathe after such powerful theatre… I even nearly left my bag which speaks for itself of how affected I had been! I had two friends with me : friend 1: ‘Susan’ was ‘astonishing’. friend 2 (tends to cast an artistically critical eye): reserved his judgement at the interval but by the final bow had been blown away by theatrical technicalities/acting precision/the sort of utterances a professionally trained actor makes that I can’t quote with any justice…but you get the flavour. A huge congratulations to cast and crew!" Charlotte C

"Went to yesterday’s matinee and thoroughly enjoyed it. Very grim in many ways, but wonderfully witty dialogue and an excellent cast. As Susan’s control slipped away more completely towards the end, I found myself wanting to stop the laughter around her… compelling performances all round. Sincere congratulations to all involved." Shelagh M

"Great show, I loved it! Congratulations to all involved." Julie B

"The intimate Sewell Barn stage leaves few places to hide and [Mandy] Kiley rises to the occasion. Hers is a masterful performance, both physically and vocally... " James Goffin - Cultivated [click here for full review]

"The Sewell Barn cast do great justice to this finely written script, and give us a play that may be difficult but is also a joy to watch... Director Peter Wood has marshalled his cast into giving a faultless and moving performance."   Julian Swainson, Norwich Eye [click here for full review]

"Brilliant play and performances by all especially Mandy Kiley, fantastic as always, and John Griffin excellent having stepped in so late. Don't miss this great show!" Ruth H

"Absolutely brilliant! Great play, well done!!" Vicky F

"It was really good - thought provoking and very well acted. Loved the backdrop of the garden through the gauze. The Barn does it again!" Shelagh S

***

The show plays 20-22 and 26-29 January, with a matinee on 29 January. Tickets £11/£10 from 0333 666 3366 or online at www.ticketsource.co.uk/sewellbarn. We are limiting audience numbers (to 60 out of our usual 100 seats) for your safety and comfort, so advance booking is highly recommended.



Friday, 26 November 2021

Three Russian Encounters

What happens to fictional characters when the stories they are in come to an end? Might those from one play mix with those from another, resuming their lives through a different author? Themes of illusion and theatrical conceit abound in Three Russian Encounters, providing a novel combination of three one-act plays ‒ by Russia’s most famous playwright, Anton Chekhov, and the much-acclaimed modern Irish dramatist, Brian Friel.

In The Yalta Game, adapted by Friel from Chekhov’s story, The Lady with the Lapdog, a couple meet, begin an affair and, as they play the game of imagining the lives of those around them, they invent their own story.

Afterplay brings together two of the characters from Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya and Three Sisters. Twenty years on, they share their stories, their ‘fictions’ and seek the ‘fortitude’ to keep going.

Swansong finds an ageing actor alone on the stage of a country theatre. His cries wake the Prompter with whom he reflects on past triumphs and his doubtful future.

Photography: Sean Owen

"This is theatre at its most powerful. The performances are finely drawn and very involving, and the atmosphere, and the lighting, I could go on! I found it haunting, moving and beautifully staged. And the final piece gave me goosebumps.   All in all, a haunting dream of a production which lingers in the mind long afterwards, and with good reason. Bravo!" Barnaby M

"These three short plays are triumphs of writing and are showcased by some seriously strong acting talent. It is an inspired selection of pieces by director Tony Fullwood, and a gem of an evening." James Goffin [click here to read full review

"That was utterly compelling…. I am moved to silence having been so deeply affected… every performance was totally captivating… please convey to all involved, from two very appreciative audience members… just wow! ... Often folk feel they have to be ‘nice’, commend the effort….but that was truly something of another order." Charlotte C

"Thank you for a wonderful evening of theatre yesterday. Great performances and excellent choice of play. Probably most thought provoking art in Norwich in November. Excellent work." James F

"Went to see Three Russian Encounters at the Sewell Barn. Brilliant evening. Well done everyone!" Etta G

"I guarantee that it will send you home satisfied yet thoughtful, inspired by three well written pieces. "Julian Swainson, Norwich Eye [click here to read full review]

"Bravo!!" Cherry C

"Yet another great performance at the Barn!" Shelagh S

"A fascinating evening at the theatre, with an artfully chosen trilogy of plays which chimed off each other in the most interesting of ways. Beautifully handled, of course, with very strong performers."  Jonathan

"Excellent show tonight - congratulations to all involved!" Trevor B

"I thought the production had an admirable clarity and a deceptive simplicity. I like Afterplay very much (I’m currently ploughing through essays on Three Sisters!). The actors were all thinking and listening to each other and there was a lot of good, but not fussy or cluttered, detailed work onstage. So well done all!" Tony (UEA Drama lecturer)

"We really enjoyed it! Well done to all involved." Tasha P

"We really enjoyed the plays the other evening. To the extent that Mike is now rediscovering a rather old copy of Chekhov from our bookshelf! Such a good production, and the actors were impressive. Thank you."  Helen

"A most enjoyable Sat matinee of Three Encounters! Well cast with some beautiful introspective moments and good projection!" Robin S

"Absolutely brilliant performances by Steven Scase, Poppy Hiscox, Jen Alexander, Dawn Brindle, David White and Kevin Oelrichs. Only two performances left so I urge you to go and show them your support." Laura L

"My friend and I, as part of our weekend in Norwich, saw [Three Russian Encounters] at the Sewell Barn on Saturday 4th December, and were delighted with the quality of the acting." Roy T

"[We] attended the performance of ‘Russian Encounters’ yesterday evening and we wanted to thank you and everyone at the theatre for an immensely enjoyable evening.  All three plays were extremely well performed and thought provoking. It never fails to amaze us at the quality of the performances at the theatre. I know it’s a small theatre in the scheme of things but delivers Big performances every time, without fail. It just proves the calibre of actors and backroom staff. Please extend our grateful thanks to all involved. The talented cast members of all three plays delivered an exceedingly entertaining evening which we both appreciated enormously. Bravo." Linda & James