Blue Remembered Hills
May 14 – May 18
Author: Dennis Potter
Director: Psyche Stott
Producer: Northern Stage
Cast: James Bolt, Phil Cheadle, Tilly Gaunt, Adrian Grove, Joanna Holden, David Nellist,
Running Time: 1 hour
Beautifully adapted from the 1979 BAFTA winning Play for Today presentation of Dennis Potter’s Blue Remembered Hills, Northern Stage have produced what can only be described as a profound exploration of the writer’s fierce intolerance of ordinary cruelty and added layers of such dynamism, integrity and tragedy the like of which the playwright could only be proud.
Set during in the West Country during a picture-perfect WWII summer of blues skies and dazzling sunshine, seven children roll down hills, play tic, fight, laugh and cry together in turn. Their innocence and naiveté, however, mask their insecurities and at no stage do they explore or discuss what their lives at home are like – other than for Donald, played with superb understatement here by Adrian Grove, who is clearly not only frightened of being alone he is also frightened of being a part of the other children’s clique.
The lighting changes the scenes from colour to black and white with great subtlety and evokes reminiscences of summers past that are both fond and concerning. How is it we only ever recall the fun and good times of our childhood? Were any of us as innocent as we wish to believe?
These are the main themes of Blue Remembered Hills, of course, the loss of innocence and the necessary development of individual responsibility. Peter, with his all arms-and-legs awkwardness, is played by Christopher Price as though the role has been written for him and is delightfully opposed by Joanna Holden’s Tomboy violence in the part of Audrey. Now here’s a girl who when she says “kiss me” to a boy, she gets kissed!
Indeed, the entire cast excel and serve us to liken their characters to those we, ourselves, had known and – possibly – lost. Yet it is the mastery of Dennis Potter’s writing that truly shines and so imbues this production with such a strong light it is impossible to do anything but recommend you go see this whilst you can.