Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Arnold Wesker's Roots at Nottingham Playhouse

Anyone who knows me, knows how much I love live theatre - and how little spare cash I have to fund my visits - so you can understand my delight at winning 2 tickets for a Nottingham Playhouse production of Arnold Wesker's Roots via Twitter*.

Now, I read Wesker's Trilogy of plays a long while ago in school and to be honest couldn't remember much about them so when my Teen asked 'What's it about?' I was a bit stumped and had to rather waffle about this girl who lives in London with her boyfriend  and goes back to Norfolk to visit her family and's set in the 1950s ...and ... er.. something or other. Despite this less-than-brilliant introduction she agreed to come, so I bought an extra ticket for her and crossed my fingers that she'd enjoy it.

I needn't have worried! She loved it - well, we all did.

Although Beatie played by Natasha Rickman took centre stage for most of the performance, the whole cast were excellent. I particularly liked the scene where all the family gather round to welcome Beatie's London boyfriend Ronnie - they had that awkward, 'dressed up in Sunday best' behaviour that I remember from family get-togethers of my childhood. Maybe it's an age thing, but I found myself siding with the mother against Beatie and dismissing absent boyfriend Ronnie as a pompous, opinionated fool. Beatie herself seemed a bit young and naive for 22 - rather like a stroppy teenager, ready to pick fault with others and their views but swallowing her boyfriend's ideas hook, line and sinker without thinking things out for herself.
All in all, a brilliant evening's entertainment. Although firmly set in 1950s, Roots with its struggle between old ways and new, and condemnation of the dumbing-down of entertainment, is as valid then as now. There's nothing new in the world - even in 1959 people were complaining about repeats on TV!

* Actually a co-production between Colchester Mercury theatre Company and Nottingham Playhouse Theatre Company.

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