A NEW short play by Sturminster Newton based writer Craig White had its first performance for the home audience at the Exchange, after a successful debut at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe.
Single Varietal is a thought-provoking and topical play about cider and families, provenance and tradition and the insidious encroachment of big corporations into the fragile world of artisan food production.
When their father (Robert Cowley) unexpectedly dies, Tim Stourton (Jack English) and his sister Molly (Jenny Young) inherit his beloved smallholding – the home of Hambledon Gold Single Varietal Cider.
The next few months are a roller-coaster as they take part in a traditional wassailing of the old mother tree with the enigmatic Knocker (a magnetic performance by Toby Greenfield), their father’s oldest friend, and agonise over what to do about the cider orchard.
They are approached by business-woman Tamara Cavalier (Annie Henschel), the jet-setting founder and owner of Euro-Artisan Ciders, with her Powerpoint presentation on the future of “artisan” ciders.
From traditions steeped in the ancient past, when small communities were closely connected to the land, to state of the art technologies which control every step of the food chain, Tim and Molly have to work out the right way forward for them and for their father’s legacy.
Knocker tells them: “Ownership is temporary and often fickle. Kin is all that matters – kin and health and you be full of wealth.”
Single Varietal was written by Craig White as part of the final presentation and dissertation for his English literature and creative writing degree. He wanted to hear his 45-minute play so a group of friends got together to read it in a pub. “We thought it would be fun to take it to Edinburgh,” says Linda Cowley, who helped Craig to direct the production which was staged by Taboo Theatre Co for six days at the Spotlight in Edinburgh.
Taboo are best known locally for performances of the powerful drama Colder Than Here, the debut play by Laura Wade (now famed as the author of Posh).
Watch out for future performances of this interesting and thoughtful new play – maybe with a taste of cider to get you in the mood!