SOMERSET theatre company Wassail launched its new “community” play, Apples and Angels, at the evocative and atmospheric setting of Burrow Hill. It’s headed for a major production in Yeovil in the future.
It’s a magical journey through folklore and legend, orchards and expectations, disappointment and regeneration. In some ways it helps to be an old Wassail hand, as the subtle references are numerous in Nick White’s new play, but let yourself be swept along by the story and you’ll soon forget you don’t understand everything in it.
Director Joanna Procter gathered a company of 20, some professional actors and dancers, some well known local performers and some perky children and youngsters, to unfold a multi-layered story of weddings and broken promises, liberally sprinkled with soccer and cider and Somerset references. The programme describes Apples and Angels as the final chapter in the story of Pete Steel, whose bowler-hatted persona has graced many a Wassail outing. Sometimes played by artistic director and co-founder Nick White, Pete is brought to life here by David Reakes, with Leela Bunce, so impressive in Wassail’s online Somerset pantomime earlier this year, as Babs.
But don’t look for easy explanations, as characters in Apples and Angels are shape-shifting images that waft in and out of the audience’s vision in this site-specific show.
Following the action from the car park round the iconic, sycamore-topped Burrow Hill, along sheep-flattened paths, through orchards and back to the wide views of the start, you’ll hear a story that links Greek mythology, ancient religions, ceremonial expectations and an everyday story of Somerset folk. Keep your eyes peeled for colourful elven apparitions, hissing, whispering, singing and crying fragments of their stories.
Ellie Showering’s music, performed unaccompanied by the whole cast, perfectly captures the spirit of the story, bridging the centuries between the Old Religion and September 2021.
Apples and Angels is an extraordinary show, complex and thought-provoking, celebratory, witty, woven with moral myths and simple common sense, and never losing the powerful sense of place.
The company, which includes Imogen Smith, Richard Holt, Lucy Harrington, Asha Pathy-Barker, Luna and Fergus Campbell-White, Josie Farrant, Lauren Stuckey, Ruby Coleman and Harrison Waterhouse, Tanya Ogden, Clive Baker, Christine Baker, Dani Turner, Eloise Adams, Ethan Teasdale and Billy Lune, took their audience on an enchanted journey.
Thanks to all involved, including the funders, the hosts at Burrow Hill Cider, Yeovil’s Octagon and a host of helpers.
Somerset is very lucky to have Wassail!
Apples and Angels continues at Burrow Hill until Thursday 30th September.