REVIEW: Winter ’53 at Aylsham Town Hall

Just Regional
May 3, 2016 2 mins read

The fEast Theatre is a local gem which tells the stories of old Norfolk and its characters and in its latest production, the professional actors were joined by a chorus of nine local people.

Aged from 13 to 83, they were recruited from Cromer, Sheringham, Banningham, Ingworth, Corpusty, Oulton Street, Itteringham, and Mundesley.

They voiced the recorded memories of those who survived the catastrophic floods which hit the east coast in 1953 and form the central narrative in Winter ’53, the third play in local playwright Rob John’s Norfolk trilogy.

But while the ferocious storm, which killed more than 300 people, looms ominously over the play, it is another past which consumes the Spence family as they strive to make sense of conflicting memories.

Living in the fictional Norfolk coastal village of Boxham, Grace Spence (Dawn Finnerty) and daughter Valerie (Tabitha Woodgett), try to come to terms with the death (by drowning) of brother Malcolm (Robin McLoughlin) many years earlier during the Normandy landings.

But family history is shrouded in deceit and ghostly ambiguities.

A superbly crafted tragi-comedy typically infused with John’s affection for his subject, Winter ’53 is a dark tale about how we construct our history and conveys a sense of place long since washed away by the raging torrent of time.

Directed by Mandy McKenna, it is demanding, both for the audience and the players, and relies heavily on dramatic dialogue. The principal actors had a lot to do to keep us engaged, but they managed it with masterly confidence.

The Norfolk Trilogy: The Canada Boys (set in 1912);  Parachute (1942); Winter ’53 (1953).

Patrick Prekopp


The chorus of local people in Winter ’53. Picture by David Greeves

The chorus of local people in Winter ’53. Picture by David Greeves

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