The new play from Sam Chittenden celebrates a woman of Sussex
Sussex Playwrights Reviews:
Written and directed by Sam Chittenden
Sweet @ The Welly
Sharon Drain and Rebecca Jones
When a man describes a woman as a hare it could mean she’s a shape shifter, a supernatural being – or that she was just too quick for him.
It’s beautifully cast and instantly clear; two fine actors with the same height, the same clear gaze, flowing hair and rich warm country tones play the same woman. We glimpse Sary through the virgin, mother and wise woman stages, as her tale flows from childhood, adolescence and unwanted attention through a strong sexuality, motherhood and loss, menopause, old age and a controlled close of life. The play tells of a lost way of country life – yet it’s a lifecycle familiar to women in all times.
Past, present and future, simples, medicines, herb lore and of course the easy flip into whispers of witchcraft and malevolence against the healer who chose to live alone and help, all weave together on a simple stage where baskets, fabric and plant material are the only props.
There’s a thread of mythology and folktale too, through Chittenden’s earthy tale of the circle of life. Words are a link to our past, and the piece is rich in Sussex dialect and song – a swift read of the programme, and you’ll pick up the old words in the dialogue and understand clearly what they mean.
The venue? Well, Sweet @ The Welly is a football pub with a football crowd, and a challenging space for theatre, especially such a deep and contemplative work. But it was somehow appropriate that those voices echoing from the pub and the courtyard were ever present, heard around and outside – and yet not part of this intense portrayal of a very female experience.