Your Childhood Revisited
 
 
 
Blue Remembered Hills at the Northern Stage
 
Fri 19 APR - Sat 11 May 2013 7.30PM  (excluding Mon & Sun)
Wed 1 & Sat 11 MAY 2PM
A Northern Stage Production
Written by Dennis Potter
Directed by Psyche Stott
 
The latest production from Northern Stage takes one back to life as a seven year old. Life was usually simple. Relationships seemed complex with constantly changing rules and protocols. Adult norms had yet to be established.
 
The set consists of the blue hill in the play’s title. At the start the cast of seven appear on stage in their carefree egocentric worlds – skipping, pretending to be a plane or simply running around. Willie (David Nellist) pretends to be both a bomber and then the dead victim rolling in the hill after being hit. For him the idea of World War 2 is an exciting adventure. Later we will be introduced to Donald (Adrian Grove) whose father is missing – an unpleasant situation compounded by the cruel jokes that 7 year olds play. Referring to him as Donald Duck is not a term of affection.
 
The play also looks at the lives of two girls who are still playing with prams and dolls. Angela (Tilly Gaunt) is very attached to her doll still. Audrey (Joanna Holden) wants to play with the boys but the boys sometimes have other ideas about what is acceptable. Innocence enables the characters to be socially awkward. They state the facts as they see them without considering the feelings of whom they are talking about. The direction by Psyche Stott ensures that the audience is much more than a fly on the wall as we laugh with the characters at inappropriate moments too.
 
Boys must be boys. Raymond (James Bolt),  John (Phil Cheadle) and Peter (Christopher Price) are acutely aware that they cannot afford to lose face in front of their peers and regularly place themselves in a social pecking order according to how well they fight or throw things. The trouble is that one has to be honest and ask if men ever grow up in some respects.
 
The play is well crafted – Dennis Potter was clearly in touch with his inner seven year old self. Whilst the design for the set appears initially very simple – it has a number of clever effects up its sleeve for the climax. With sympathetic direction, the play helps send the audience to a time when life could be less complicated.
 
Northern Stage must be proud of their production of Blue Remembered Hills and it was a pleasure to spend an hour with our childhood again.
 
The production appears at Northern Stage until the 11th May and then it goes on a nationwide tour. If you can't see it at Newcastle, try and catch it at any of the below venues:
 
Liverpool Playhouse 14-18 May
Yvonne Arnaud, Guildford 21-25 May
Watford Palace Theatre 29 May - 1 Jun
Oxford Playhouse 4-8 June
Lighthouse Theatre, Poole 11-15 Jun
Richmond Theatre 18-22 Jun
Derby Theatre 25-29 Jun
 
Review by Steve Oliver ....Mr Jowheretogo