The Somerset Charabanc: Egg Day, Westhay Moor National Nature Reserve

IT took 6,000 years to form the peat bogs of the Somerset Levels. It takes a few hours to dig them up.

Human beings have believed for centuries that they are masters of the world, that they can dominate nature, that they have an absolute right to exploit every aspect of the planet’s riches. But climate change and the collapse of insect, pollinator and once-common bird populations are waking us up to the reality of this profligacy.

On the Somerset Levels, the story is also one of hope. The old peat workings that are now part of the Westhay Moor National Nature Reserve are a thriving habitat for water birds, dragonflies, damselflies and for the bittern, whose boom now resounds across the lakes and reed beds. With more than 40 bitterns, Westhay Moor and other reserves on the Levels are now the country’s greatest strongholds for these distinctive endangered birds.

But still there are people who don’t understand the importance of conservation – of protecting and preserving endangered species and habitat.

Take Pete (George Williams), the son, grandson, great grandson … of peat cutters on the Moor. He loves the area, he knows it well, and he dreams of finding the nest of the last Great White Egret so that he can complete his egg collection.

But two Extinction Rebellion activists (Robin and Willow, played by Harry Clements and Kirsty Egginton) are determined to stop him.

Egg Day, Wassail Theatre’s new site-specific work, takes a group of visitors on a magical mystery tour of Westhay Moor, where they meet a badly-behaved dog, Health and Safety officer Holly (Kate Underhay) and two acrobats who are by turns wildlife rangers, a PhD student and environmental campaigners.

It is a moving and thought-provoking introduction to this beautiful and important nature reserve.

The play takes place on and around a wagon drawn by two Suffolk Punches driven by the inscrutable Ivan. It is the first joint venture for the Somerset-based Wassail Theatre and the wildlife trust.

It continues on various dates until 23rd June and few tickets remain for some of the dates. Visit the Wassail website for more details.


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