cast from 2021

Pictures: Dylan Parrin

The Allesley Silas

B2 Belgrade Theatre, Coventry


The Allesley Silas is a really local production that grew out of Allesley village, a very pretty part of Coventry, the place where George Eliot based her fictional village for her novel Silas Marner: The Weaver of Raveloe.

It is a gorgeous book, my favourite, and it makes a supreme drama with a brilliant narrator in Jill Dowse, freshly and amazingly recovered from Covid, to pace the story and allow Silas and the huge cast free rein to tell their story in song and sketches from village life.

Silas (Adrian Decosta) is a man in exile; misjudged, untrusting and alone in his new village where his work as a weaver is highly regarded and well paid. His gold, his money, is his only companion.

Shenanigans at the Red House where the Squirarchy, the Cass family of father (Mark Carey) and two sons Godfrey (Nicholas Goode who also plays violin) and Dunstan (John Bennell) have secrets to keep including Godfrey’s unsanctioned marriage to Molly (Gemma-Louise Sharman). Molly’s death and Eppie’s introduction as a two-year-old makes the meat of the story.

Adrian Decosta as Silas

Dunstan is short of money; he steals Silas’ cache and disappears for years. Silas is bereft but, as Christmas approaches, he sees what he assumes is his gold in the snow – but it’s the golden curls of little Eppie whose presence transforms his life. He is guided by Dolly, his neighbour, (Charlie Lewis) whose son Aaron (Sam Barrowcliffe) becomes an important part of Eppie’s life as she grows.

The puppets; the dog, the hare, the horse and little Eppie are wonderful and add so much to the story. Music, likewise, from Rebecca Applin, and a range of musicians on stage add to the unique and busy re-telling of Silas’ story. Scenes in the Rainbow, which is a real pub in both senses of the word, are lively and intersperse the scenes with really raucous and humorous country life.

The Allesley Silas is well worth a look, and was well worth reviving. I enjoyed immensely Silas’ performance. While Adrian Decosta as Silas has little dialogue, his passion was totally engaging and believable as he navigated his new life with Eppie from a standing start. In the book and on stage, this relationship as it grows provides an innocent love story that is rare.

Written by Alan Pollock and directed by Olivia Marie, The Allesley Silas runs to 30-07-22.

Jane Howard


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