Stars explained: * A production of no real merit with failings in all areas. ** A production showing evidence of not enough time or effort, or even talent, and which never breathes any real life into the piece – or a show lumbered with a terrible script. *** A good enjoyable show which might have some small flaws but has largely achieved what it set out to do.**** An excellent show which shows a great deal of work and stage craft with no noticeable or major flaws.***** A four star show which has found that extra bit of magic which lifts theatre to another plane.
Half stars fall between the ratings


Roy Brown: Reclaiming Stonehenge

Hall Green Little Theatre


I suppose we should blame the Scots, they started it all, they became the inspiration, the blueprint for Roy Brown launching Cerrig Gleision.

We first come across Roy, played with a burning fanaticism matched only by lack of logic by Matt Ludlam, on a walk with friend Emma, played with refreshing normality and even cynicism in the circumstances, by Katherine Williams.

Roy, it seems, goes all in for anything he does – apart from carpentry where it seems half the population of Wales is waiting for him to complete their jobs, but we will let that pass . . . much as he does.

So, for a walk Roy was kitted out for an expedition up the Amazon with walking poles, huge backpack and even a fishing net . . . Emma had a bag of sandwiches which is perhaps all you need for a walk through the Preseli Hills in Pembrokeshire, which are more strolling country than mountaineering challenges.

But the hills are where the Bluestones that top the standing stones of Stonehenge came from, quarried some 5,000 years or so ago, and Emma made the mistake of telling Roy this historical fact . . . which is where the Scots, and the Stone of Scone, used at the coronation of Scottish kings, come in.

You see, Edward I seized the stone and took it back to England in 1296 and it took the Scots 700 years of campaigning before it was returned in 1996.

So, if the Scots could get their stone back . . . what about the Welsh? Please can we have our Stonehenge back?

Roy, Welsh to the . . . well as Welsh as anyone born and bred in Margate could manage, recruits Rhys and Jane. Rhys, played by Richard Scott, is an enthusiastic supporter in the background, a foot soldier who drifts along with the battle whose main contribution to the cause is the name, Cerrig Gleision, Bluestones in Welsh.

While Jane, played by Rachael Pickard, is more of a firebrand, embracing the campaign and recruiting her friends from an eco-community – or the compost toilet lot in Roy speak.

We meet the eco-warriors as they are being evicted from their planning permissionless village on land they didn't own  by Richard Woodward’s rather unfriendly and irritated security guard.

Their leader seems to be Sian, played by Jo Walker, who embraces the Stonehenge campaign with a vengeance. By her side is Sean, played by Oli Scott, who seems to chain-smoke spliffs and has that penchant for philosophy often seen in what we might call dwellers of the grasslands . . . man.

On the ups and downs in life he tells us that “sometimes you are the statue and sometimes the pigeon.”

Then there is Sheila, played by Joan Wall. Whatever Welsh is for lust, she is it, all directed at Roy whose response is a mixture flight and fear.

These days New Age is a bit old hat but for tradition’s sake up pops Morwenna, the psychic with henna tattoos, shapeless, multi-coloured, flowing clothes and links to a world we cannot see with its lay lines and primaeval powers. Mad as a hatter and played with manic style by Debbie Donnelly.

roy, rhys and jane

Rachel Pickard as Jane, Matt Ludlam as Roy and Richard Scott as Rhys

With the eviction comes a reporter from the South Wales Echo in the shape of Emily Beaton who ends up interviewing Roy, who gets somewhat carried away – offering to house the 50 evicted eco residents in his tiny flat for example – and then launches into a patriotic war cry on why the Bluestones should be returned. Not quite Martin Sheen’s rallying call to the Welsh football team, but in the same ball park.

That brings a flurry of letters, some support, some threats and, presumably some in the method of choice of postal psychos, green biro, as the campaign gathers pace.

Perhaps after support for stop oil and extinction rebellion protests is wearing paper thin, the idea of blocking the Severn Bridges might not be the best choice of protests these days but Sian did know a lot of people with camper vans, so why not use them. It brought in an angry motorist who couldn’t get to see her new granddaughter, (Katherine Williams in disguise methinks) and a return of Richard Woodward’s security guard.

With a theme park on board, for a while at least, the world about to end, according to Morwenna, as lay lines are broken, Roy’s plans are no longer set in stone, so to speak, there is a need for both flexibility and fibreglass, but help is on the horizon . . . along comes Richard Woodward again, this time as a rich, no nonsense American with a plan to solve everyone’s problems, the plan being . . . just buy a ticket to find out.

Director Paul Holtom has become a champion of Derek Webb’s plays and this is the first time Roy Brown will have ventured into England after a brief outing in Wales. One of the problems is scene changes which can break rhythm, but Holtom has got around that with stage left the eco-village and outside events and stage right Roy’s flat.

Transitions are helped by the addition of Geddes Cureton on accordion as a sort of Incredible String Band style eco/folk musician, an innovation not in the script, which Holton has introduced and it works well in avoiding blank stages or gaps in action. Cureton, incidentally plays keyboard for Birmingham improv group, Box of Frogs.

It’s a new play with some lovely lines and a new idea – not that there is a lot of logic to Roy’s premise but we will let that pass. The Welsh accents all sounded fine – I suspect some, from cast names, were genuine, but all were consistent, to add to a well acted, amusing production – all getting set for the summer solstice. Derek Webb, incidentally, will be coming to see his play this week. To 24-06-23.

Roger Clarke



Home Reviews A-Z Reviews by affiliate