WHAT better way to spend a late summer Sunday afternoon than trundling round the Somerset lanes on a horse-drawn charabanc, singing The Seeds of Love – the very song that inspired Cecil Sharp to begin his famous collection of English folk song.
It was the last of four site-specific performances by the enterprising Wassail Theatre, with a quartet of actors who unveiled legends, told true and tall stories, sang songs and got married (well, two of them did).
Devised by the company and directed by Joanna Procter, The Somerset Charabanc takes its audience from Huish Episcopi through Langport and across the Levels to Muchelney.
The participants, met and greeting by Honest Pete, climbed onto the cart pulled by the magnificent Suffolk Punches out of the Huish car park and up the road under the Hanging Chapel, where a distraught young piratical person, one Sam Ackland, was searching for his bride.
Sam and Evie Elver had only met the previous day, and, because she was an eel turned human by love, had only 24 hours to complete their nuptials. Thank goodness there were enough witnesses on board that the legal requirements could be fulfilled.
But it’s not all plain swimming for a lovestruck elver, as the legendary Alice discovered back in the mists of time. She loved a human, but his only interest was the money he could make from their progeny. Since then she has haunted the waters to curse his species.
Sam and Evie must convince her that not all men are bad, something they do with song, determination and true love.
Nick White describes the performance as a theatrical adventure, interspersed with refreshments, and of course the wedding. And then singing home with Wassail songs.
With fine performances from the singing actors – the versatile and charismatic Lucy Tuck, young lovers Aaron Baker and Katy Sobey and Nick as Pete-the-lad – and a story that is involving for all ages, entertaining, teaching, amusing and delighting, let’s hope there will be many more performances come next Summer somewhere in Somerset.
This pilot project was funded by Arts Council England and South Somerset District Council.