By Taylor Kendall
This is the story of Cris (Billy Sloane), an anthropologist returning to life in his ancestral home in Suffolk following a dangerous illness. Though he is on the road to recovery, his illness has taken its toll, inflicting hallucinations and fevered dreams that are interwoven within his real life and the folklore of his homeland, blurring the lines between what is real and what is mythology.
The story is a framework, offering retellings of three Suffolk folktales; Malekin of Dagworth, The Wildman of Orford, and The Green Children of Woolpit, intertwining them with the story of Cris and the people coming in and out of his life following his breakdown; his cousins, a new friend he meets at the pub, an old school mate, and the mysterious girl who is as green as Elderflower.
Adapted for the stage by Richard Davies, who also provided the lyrics and music for the performance, The Girl as Green as Elderflower has a sweet simplicity to its set, an element that overall works wonders for the production, allowing the audience to spend their focus on the storyline itself and its players. However, it was noted during the production that some scenes rely heavily on the use of stage cigarettes, and there had been no warning of this in the program or prior to the performance – which caused a little havoc to asthmatics in the front row.
The performances are generally delivered well, although with some performers playing multiple roles at times the dialogue sometimes appears to be delivered as though it is being recited from the page, rather than performed, giving a break in the atmosphere and pulling the audience out of the world of 1960’s Suffolk. In addition to this, there are instances where the accents can seem a little muddled, which though not a crucial hole, can make the performance seem a little jarring.
It is clear from the start that this production has a lot to offer in ways of storytelling, with an intriguing idea of connecting the lore not only to the centre story, but also themselves. Unfortunately, this sometimes seems a little too ambitious, and finds itself becoming overly complicated and difficult to follow. Perhaps it was this reviewer’s lack of knowledge of the text beforehand, but it was much simpler to focus on the individual tales rather than spending too much time trying to decipher the crux of the overall story. However, this could be brought down to the source material itself and not the delivery of the show. The story was still beautifully told, and there is no doubt in my mind that it would be an overall astonishing piece if it was just that little clearer.
Though the cast performed well together as a whole, two stand out performances have to be given to Liam Dodds in his performance as Matthew, Cris’ friend from school. Dodds appeared comfortable and in sync with his characters; demonstrated in his movement, his vocals and his overall performance; particularly his role as the Wildman, which was haunting and emotionally driven. The other stand out performance was Tori McCann, who played the eponymous Girl Green, Mirabel. An alluring and silent character for a great deal of the show, she leads the audience with intrigue and a stunning vocal and at times heartbreaking delivery in her connecting roles. The final duet between both Dodds and McCann is an utter highlight of the production.
The production overall is well performed, despite the lack of clarity in some areas. The musical numbers and the folklore woven in are enough alone to take the venture to the theatre and see it for yourself.
All opinions and thoughts expressed within reviews on Theatre Travels are those of the writer and not of the company at large.