"Powerfully poignant and utterly raw"
by Eleni Young for remotegoat on 30/06/14

If there’s one word to describe this production, it’s ‘poignant’. Set in the early 1900’s during World War One, we meet a small group of people in a quiet, but no less dramatic, farm in Sussex. In rolls Archie Gilligan (played by Josh Taylor) in a feat to find the lost folk songs of England, with a past of his own. A modern man and an ex-army Captain who’s seemingly left the woes of war behind him, walks into Sarah’s (played by Isabella Marshall) own personal war, facing leaving her home and marrying a man she doesn’t love.

Well written and beautifully acted, the chemistry behind each of the characters is raw and completely real. In this small, packed theatre in London, you’re transported back to a time where war affects everyone, all on a different level, and England sits on the precipice of industrial revolution.

The theme of English folk songs, ones that weren’t officially published or played in music halls, but were passed from generation to generation, was an unusual component to tie all the characters together. After all, when you hear anyone refer to a folk song, it’s normally Irish or Scottish folk songs that you think of, not English. Archie’s determination to find these folk songs was not only a subject which he undoubtedly proved to be passionate about but slowly proved to be his way of escaping his time in the army. Sarah’s desire to escape country life and make a life and identity of her own, conflicted harshly with George Bainton’s (played by Ian Mairs) insistence of marriage. Supported by Mary Keeble (played by Hilary Burns) and Joshua Merrick (played by Mac Elsey), they bring you back to the everyday life and struggle one must toil through to survive and glues the cast together beautifully.

A little slow to start with, this is a production with true merit and quite quintessentially English. With English folk songs as the foundation to this performance, it would have been interesting to actually see or rather hear, this integrated more into the performance. Such a strong and an unusual theme it seemed to be a shame that although it was spoken about, it wasn’t heard so much until the end. As interesting as it was to have the information in the programme, it didn’t appear so much on the stage.

Well cast and well performed, this production offers raw and powerful relationships and a history of music that’s scarcely been explored before. ‘Flowers of the Field’ is a touching and immersive production.

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