Everything Must Go! – devised and written by Jon Tavener and Ivan Cutting – Eastern Angles at Sir John Mills till Saturday and then touring
A couple of years ago Jon Tavener created a piece called Sid and Hettie from memories of care home residents. This is another in the series – this time focusing in on shops and shopping and how this concept has changed throughout the decades. Napoleon called us a nation of shopkeepers – but there has been a seismic shift over the years from the small corner shop right up to the hypermarket and now we seem to have come full circle – as Malls close or get turned into eateries and people do bulk shopping on line, the corner shop has come back into favour for its convenience.
My father ran a newsagents and grocers for over 40 years – and had an intense hatred of supermarkets – so I was interested to see how Eastern Angles would handle this subject
Two very talented young actors play the main protagonists of the piece but also lots of other passing characters in an hour of whimsy and nostalgia that many will empathise with but would probably have been better for a stronger story arc.
Rosalind Burt plays Dotty – who is brought up over her father’s ironmongery shop in the 30’s. She is now in a care home and suffering from dementia – but her grandson Tom, played by Joe Leat – thinks that by taking her out on a trip to see the sites of where she use to live and work will help jog her memory. Joe also plays Dotty’s father as a younger man as well as various customers and other shop keepers. Rosalind moves effortlessly from old Dotty to young and back again – although her lack of a hat or coat made the part a little less creditable.
The story is framed in a speech Tom gives at her funeral and a look back over the places he took her and her memories of such. For many there will be lots of notes of familiarity – jars of nails sold by the pound, slabs of cheese and vats of tea and boxes of fruit and veg – the paraffin tank in the back yard was one for me!
It would have been good to have cited the shops in definite streets and places – every one in Felixstowe over 40 knows where the old Coop was for example – and there was no real sense of the rise of the supermarkets putting the small shops out of business and the heartache this caused for those that had worked to build up their livelihood only to see it obliterated by large corporations.
However, this is a gentle meander through the past – and based on verbatim accounts is an important record of how things used to be – and I am sure will be well received back in the care homes from which the reminisces have come.
You can catch it at Sir John Mills till Saturday.