A love song to Northumberland
Beyond The End Of The Road
Tuesday 27th June 2017 Sage Gateshead, Sage Two
Friday 30th June 2017 Whalton Village Hall
Saturday 1st July 2017 Crossman Village Hall, part of Holy Island Festival
Before we begin, a disclaimer. I am born and bred in the North East and have been surrounded by the songs, stories and history of Northumberland my whole life. I grew up exploring the hills and coastlines so a production that promises to bring a place I love so much to life is…daunting. What if it misses the mark, or worse, makes fun of all the brilliant (and sometimes brilliantly eccentric) people that call Northumberland home?
Beyond the End of the Road is set in P L A C E. A rural Northumberland village that is easily recognisable as any and all small communities stretching up the coastline. The narrator, played by the wonderfully charismatic, Kevin Bacon-esq PeterPeverley promises us love, sex, violence, death and betrayal and reminds us that every stone, every star holds a memory; that here there is life.
The cast of 10 make up the storytelling rabble and they weave their midsummer tale about the residents of P L A C E, their loves, their losses and their deepest secrets. The show is inspired by folk and traditional music and as well as the musicians and actors on stage, there are special appearances from local talent at each venue.
The show begins with ‘Northumberland Sky’; a love song to Northumberland. The song perfectly captures the essence of the endless skies, mountains and valleys of the region and the history that they have absorbed; there was a tear in my eye before the 10 minute mark. After all, it is the start of midsummer and anything can happen…
From there it is a winding road of laughs (a quip about an old, mouldy canvas tent passed down from grandfather to father to son particularly tickled me, much to the surprise of the gentleman next to me) and maybe a few more tears as you are transported to the auction mart, to the village hall and to the ‘top field’ where a mysterious, unidentified sound is coming from the soil…
The secrets of the village intertwine as Sula, a newcomer, tries to escape her past while pining for her young daughter, feuding brothers grapple for control of their farm and Evie tries her best to prepare for the midsummer ceilidh. All while the ground appears to be straining under the weight of all the lives, secrets and history that it has absorbed.
After a short interval, there is just time to grab a drink before you are invited to the ceilidh that Evie has been preparing so hard for. Grab a partner to dozy doe or just sit back and enjoy the music and comparing from renowned caller Alistair Anderson.
I experienced Beyond the End of the Road on the day that November Club, Sage Gateshead and a host of other invaluable arts venues and organisations in the North East received confirmation of their NPO Arts Council Funding, enabling them to continue bringing stories and songs to life across our region. Songs that haven’t even been written yet and stories that might not have been lived. There was so much joy in the foyer as people hugged and congratulated each other for their hard work and I can’t think of a more appropriate day to smile and laugh and cry and celebrate the North East in all its weird and wonderful glory.
Beyond the End of the Road is perfect, balancing the right amount of humour with people and stories that will seem almost familiar to everyone who has ever set foot in a rural Northumberland town. There may be tears, and by god, there WILL be dancing.
Review by Lauren Regan
REMAINING TOUR DATES:
Friday 30th June 7:30pm Whalton Village Hall (£3.00 - £7.00)
Box Office: 01670 775411
Saturday 1st July 4.00pm Crossman Village Hall, part of Holy IslandFestival (£10.00) Box Office: www.holyislandfestival.org