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Review: Books, Theatre, Albums, Movies and Gigs

Rough Crossings

The Playhouse, Liverpool
October 16  - October 27

Author: Simon Schama, adapted by Caryl Phillips
Director: Rupert Goold
Producer: Headlong
Cast includes: Patrick Robinson, Miranda Colchester, Peter de Jersey, Ed Hughes, Jessica Lloyd, Dave Fishley, Ian Drysdale, Mark Jax, Michael Matus

Running time: 2 hrs 30 mins

Image: Promtional image for 'Rough Crossings'.

Everyman Liverpool Playhouse official websiteAs the American War of Independence reaches its climax, a plantation slave and a British Naval Officer embark on an epic journey in search of freedom. Divided by barriers of race but united in their ambitions for equality, their convictions will change attitudes towards slavery forever.

With by far the strongest and multi-faceted storyline, performed by the strongest and most adept cast, Caryl Phillips’ Rough Crossings delivers everything it promises and more with poignancy and power in equal measure, with Patrick Robinson and Peter de Jersey and Ed Hughes storming the plaudits with performances of their character’s personalities with supreme skill and flair.

Image: screen shot taken from 'Rough Crossings'.Robinson, playing the obstinate Thomas Peters is, quite simply, a powerhouse of forthright self-opinion who refuses to allow for his principals to buckle in the face of broken promises, whereas de Jersey, as David George – a preacher – is so willing to change his points of view in order to serve the “Greater Good”, he provides the play a mixture of emotion that might otherwise become clichéd in the hands of a lesser performers.

Ed Hughes, as reformer and abolitionist John Clarkson, puts the recent portrayals of William Wilberforce and his ilk into perspective brilliantly, not as only as a Utopian dreamer, but as a single-minded man of means intent in pursuing an ambition that lies beyond his capabilities of ever achieving.

Mark Jax, Miranda Colchester and, in particular, Jessica Lloyd, also, are particularly fine, telling their tales of reform and, in Ann Marie Falconbridge’s (Lloyd) case, self-discovery, with gusto and belief.

Image: Screen shot of 'Rough Crossings' 2007Behind the performances lies the music – which is played both off stage and on – with a sweeping African / Gospel rhythm that cannot fail to captivate, whereas the set – a tilting stage giving telling of the story almost a split-screen effect, backed by strong visuals portrayed on a large, sail-shaped video screen to the rear. Both concepts are breathtaking and serve to increase the tension tenfold, without ever swamping the whole thing.

Overall the play is a triumph from top to bottom and one that carries an important message – not only of history – but also, sadly, of today’s political climate and ongoing ignorance of all that is wrong in Africa and beyond.
Chris High.

Read an interview with actor Patrick Robinson - October 2007

Everyman Liverpool Playhouse official website



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“Writing gets me away for a while' from this world and into one where I, alone, can make or
break the rules as I see fit.” - Chris High 2003.
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