The Night Heron - Review

The showbiz tradition of "the show must go on" was upheld by director, Jim Polkey-Calderwood when he successfully stepped into the shoes of one of the main characters, Griffin, when Andy Costello had to withdraw through illness. Having been told that Jim only had three days to learn the part and that he would be carrying the book for part of the evening it was with the feeling that the play would not be seen at its best that seats were taken. However such fears were never realised. Jim's assimilation into the cast was virtually seamless. The book was only needed as security like a comfort blanket. He gave a tremendous performance.

Set on the edge of the Cambridgeshire Fens The Night Heron is an intriguing play that unfolds gradually to reveal the secrets behind the main characters, Jess Wattmore and Griffin, unemployed & hard up gardeners living in a shack on the marshes. When they are forced to advertise for a lodger Bolla Fogg, a most unorthodox girl, enters into their lives with disturbing ramifications. Throw in local superstitions and a religious cult and you have a brooding atmospheric evening that kept you on edge and wanting to know what happened next. In the main the writing was excellent although the climax of the play was weakened to some extent by the religious mumbo-jumbo of the local cult. Also there were a few loose ends that could have done with clarification.

Jim's fine performance was matched by quality portrayals of the other two main characters. There was a sensitive one from Tony Scola, who captured beautifully both the pathos and religious fervour of the weak and tormented Jess. Whilst Peta Taylor, as Bolla, extracted the maximum humour from her role yet managed at the same time to convincingly convey the two extremes of her character -– tough yet vulnerable. They received excellent support from the rest of the cast.

As ever a fine set, lighting and terrific sound effects achieved the atmosphere so necessary to the play.

A commendable feature of the production was the attention given to the accuracy of the accents of the cast. All had mastered the Fenland dialect that the script required.

Barrie Jerram