July 19-22, 2017
BLUE REMEMBERED HILLS
Identity Theatre in association with the Brighton Open Air Theatre presented Dennis Potter’s remarkable telling of lost childhood innocence set in wartime Forest of Dean
Children play on an endless summer afternoon in the Forest of Dean - it is
1943; their fathers are fighting overseas, their mothers are doing their best...
They free-fall through their day, their wild and unrestrained relationships
both mimicking the adult world and highlighting the casual cruelty
of children. At times hilarious, at times chilling, Potter’s play has become
Potter's affectionate study captures all the joy, horror, anxiety and delight
of children at play - it holds a mirror up to our own childhood memories of
carefree fun, and shows how the repercussions of action without thought
can result in tragedy...
Semi-autobiographical in nature, Blue Remembered Hills is set in a landscape
similar to the one in which Potter himself grew up. It is probably his most
accessible play - which is not to say it is simplistic, it remains a multi-layered
and nuanced piece. Potter did insist on one thing - that all the parts be played
by adults. "The adult body acts as a kind of magnifying instrument which,
because it has to loosen up and let go, reminds us more of just how mobile
and swift movement is in the childhood world, and yet how long time is," he
said in 1978. The themes are timeless and universal.
Potter demonstrates that human behaviour is the same no matter what age the participants are. The bullying, taking sides, picking on outsiders and make-believe of childhood games are merely played out on a bigger scale. The genius of the script is that we soon forget that the actors are adults as we are drawn into their war games, squirrel-hunting and nose-picking. The challenge for actors and directors alike is to remember the apparently trivial details of growing up which at the time seemed so important - the shame of coming to school with a new haircut or the joy of capturing a tadpole in a jar - and transferring those emotions onto stage.
This production of BLUE REMEMBERED HILLS was first
produced by the Southwick Players in 2016, where it
was entered for the Brighton & Hove Arts Council
Theatre Awards, winning the
Arthur Churchill Award for Excellence,
Best Actor for Tobias Clay,
Best Technical Achievement,
Best Lighting Design and
Best Set, as well as nominations for several other