Review by David Vass:
“The Harleston Players’ witty dramatization of Anthony Hope’s nineteenth century novel must be their most ambitious production to date, crammed as it was with creative flourishes, strong lead performances, and a huge supporting cast.
Writer and director Eileen Ryan has adapted Hope’s swashbuckling novel with a lightness of touch that deftly avoids the pitfalls of parody, but is nonetheless sufficiently self-aware to steer clear of the grander absurdities of the source material. Sitting somewhere between drama and musical, and with a fair share of whimsy, this was close in tone to Alan Bennett’s Wind in the Willows. Grant Filshil is just the sort of commanding character actor needed to carry the lead role, while Simon Evans – best known for unctuous villainy – showed he can play characters with backbone. It was also good to see youngster Will Woodrow given the chance to play such a substantial role, while a whole host of supporting players did their bit to bring the action to life.
Cleverly staged so that the action felt immediate, yet intimate, and packed with invisible swords, imaginary horses, water-filled moats, tree-lined forests, coronations and kings, this was hard-working community theatre at its most inventive and heartfelt.”