CHILDREN can be horrible creatures.
Smelly, dirty, aggressive, cowardly, vengeful – just like adults.
In Dennis Potter’s Blue Remembered Hills the seven children – all played by adults – are an atypical bunch filling their playtime with games that mimic the adult world they see around them.
For Angela and Audrey that means playing happy families with sissy boy Donald. The home-lives they echo however are full of reproach, anger and frustration.
For the boys – Peter, Raymond, John and Willie – the games are all about who is king of the hill and the weapons are threats, taunts and fists.
It’s roustabout stuff, as the boys swing from trees and tumble in the dirt.
As the first production in Chichester’s theatre on the Fly – created to mark the Festival’s fiftieth anniversary – this new adaptation makes full use of the marvellous temporary structure set in open parkland next to the main theatre buildings.
Huge barn doors open on to the greenery beyond and the players excellently use the space both inside and out. Some of the action takes place at the very edge of the audience’s vision, far beneath the park-edge trees.
It is spellbinding, clever stuff.
Potter’s setting is the waryears of the 1940s. The adult world the children mimic is full of death, fear and anger and when it spills over into their play the real world brings with it dramatic consequences.
For the audience, the arrival of this refreshing addition to Chichester’s theatre scene – albeit temporary – takes the experience on from the already challenging Festival and Minerva settings.
Future productions include Playhouse Creatures (July 19 – August 11) and Fred’s Diner (August 15 – September 2).
There are a number of onenight productions, and renowned actress Eileen Atkins gives a lecture of Shakespeare’s Women first delivered by Ellen Terry 100 years ago on August 1 and 2.