Monday, 13 June 2016
Powerful, disturbing, thought-provoking... all this and much more. Dennis Potter's Brimstone and Treacle still has the power to shock us to the core, 40 years after its original tv broadcast. The production currently playing at the Sewell Barn Theatre is strong, brave, effective and superbly presented.
The four actors present a balanced framework - a sturdy four-legged table, if you like - for this challenging evening. The dynamic between each combination of characters is carefully defined while at the same time allowing for the uncertainty that has to exist in the text, the questions that arise - concerning trust and truth and reality - in each story or confrontation.
It's not for the faint-hearted. In its film incarnation it has an 'over 18' rating, and understandably so, for the explicit nature of some of the action. However, it has humour and honesty and warmth as well as fear and shock and darkness, and it's the combination of all these elements that makes it such a remarkable play. Moreover, the sure handling by director Jen Dewsbury of such challenging subject matter, and by all four actors who are required to inhabit such damaged personae for the evening, make this a remarkable production: brave, demanding and ultimately successful.
If it's a feel-good, cosy tale you are after, then this is probably not for you. If you are open to thought-provoking subject matter, skilled performances and a strong theatrical experience, don't miss it.
Brimstone and Treacle resumes performances on Wednesday 15 June at 7.30 pm, playing until Saturday 18, with a 2.30 matinee on the Saturday. Tickets are available in person or by phone from Prelude Records in Norwich, or online through the Sewell Barn website. All booking details can be found on this link.