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Play explores life in the Forest
A PLAY exploring life and identity in the New Forest is set to tour across the country.
Forest Forge will be touring with Gary Owen’s play Free Folk – described as part thriller, part comedy – throughout September and October.
The play is based around five characters who are unexpectedly brought together on a dark and stormy night when the Forest is flooded.
It explores the themes of home and freedom: Karen wants to get home before dark – but the forest has other ideas. Tim wants to settle down with Hannah – but Hannah wants to see the world from behind the wheel of her imaginary campervan. Pearl wants to be remain independent in the house where she was born – but her son wants her to move to a nursing home. And Shaun is a loveable rogue, wanting to make a few extra pounds with a bit of mischief – or maybe something worse.
Free Folk was written in 2009 especially for Forest Forge by Owen, who visited the New Forest and listened in on conversations on buses to get a feel for the place.
“He is one of the best writers in theatre,” said director Kirstie Davis.
“The first draft came back to me and I was immediately transfixed – he brought together five brilliantly-imagined characters into one space and allowed them to collide.
“Each character goes through a moment of decision that changes their lives forever. Gary’s writing goes from black comedy to poeticism to real thriller and suspense.”
And the sixth character of the work is the New Forest itself.
“The Forest needed to be the extra character,” said Davis. “I think that was very important.”
Actor Tim Treslove, who was in the original cast as Shaun, said: “I grew up in Salisbury; I’ve lived here for most of my life, and Gary has come into this environment and captured so perfectly not only the feel and atmosphere but also the characters. All of them, not only the character I’m playing, are people I have experienced.
That’s what makes the play so exciting to perform.”
The play received a “phenomenal response”
when it toured locally in 2010.
“Even then I could sense the actors were really excited about it,” said Davis.
“The very first audience for this piece really took it to their hearts and I knew then that we had a special play on our hands and that it should have another life. I am so glad that we have enabled this to happen.”
For a list of tour dates, which includes shows in the Forest, and to buy tickets, visit forestforge.co.uk.
* Forest Forge runs Act Your Age, an over-55s theatre group that will become a resident company, and What It Means To Be Free, an interactive digital platform for people to share their thoughts and memories about home.
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