Cast: Peter Bromilow, Sharon Clarke, Steve Dalgeish, Chris Douglas, Vera Farrell, Carl Fowler, Patricia Palombella Hart, Gaynor La Rocca, Francesco La Rocca, Mike MacKenzie, Rachael Reason, Carmel Skelly, Kirsty Taylor, Edwina Walsh, Jim Welsh.

Rob Brannen’s play The Yarn is as homely as you can ask for but it also hides the darkness, very cleverly, of what happens to a village when the heart is ripped out of it.

Directed by Gaynor La Rocca, this new adaptation for the Mate Drama Workshop extols all the virtues of small village life over the course of hundred year backdrop but with the dark undercurrent that stalked the people of the time, namely hunger, hardship and want. Whilst at the same time, putting a very brave face upon it and keeping the memories of the village’s humble beginnings fresh for all to here and some of the more colourful stories, yarns and legends of the people that have lived there.

The audience were greeted by the cast as they walked through the doors and into their own private world where hay covered the worst of the mud and families shared food, love and the occasional tall tale. As the audience learns of what drove the first woman to the village and the subsequent people that eventually joined her, it was possible to believe that these stories were the 21st equivalent of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. However, whereas Chaucer’s travelling pilgrims swopped tales to keep themselves amused and for the prize laid on by the public house owner, these tales were of a world that, even separated by time and the advent of mechanisation and the Industrial Revolution, are more in keeping with today’s troubled world.

These were tales of the innocent, of the dispossessed and those that forlornly held on for as long as they could against the rising tide of the modern age. For there was no winner in these stories, it was just about keeping the memory alive.

The writing cleverly mixed some of the finer folk traditions and some excellent acting of the stories. In amongst them was the sensational story of The Woman who Died Five Times, the almost parable like message behind A Poor Family Stay at the Inn Of Dreams and the incorrigible tale of Nathanial’s Corpse Ran Away.    

The Yarn is one of those plays that just sits well with the soul, it doesn’t pretend to be anything that it isn’t and for that it is a cracking night out, full of laughter and pathos. Superb!

Ian D. Hall