REVIEW: The Crowstarver

Salisbury Journal: REVIEW: The Crowstarver REVIEW: The Crowstarver

NOT all tales involving small furry animals by children’s favourite Dick King-Smith are cuddly and cosy.

Some will break your heart.

The Crowstarver is the bitter-sweet tale of Spider Sparrow, a boy with severe learning difficulties, played with great skill by Lawrence Brookfield.

Lloyd Perry’s evocative production let the story unfold in a gentle, unhurried evening that hit all the right emotional buttons.

Spider is abandoned as a baby in a lambing pen on a Wiltshire farm between the wars and adopted by the shepherd who finds him, and his wife.

As he grows up, he is teased and bullied, his vulnerability a constant source of worry to his loving parents.

But it is his affinity with animals – he gentles a bucking bronco (a snorting, stamping turn from Mark Newman), protects foxes from the hunt and even apologises to the crows he is given the job of scaring away from the crops – that helps him find his place in the world.

Outoverdown Farm was represented by a simple set of straw bales and farmyard implements with most of the cast doubling, or even trebling, roles as well as providing some of the animal sound effects themselves.

Fewer blackouts between the very short scenes may have lent better flow to the action, but it’s a minor quibble when the play’s heart was so obviously in the right place.

There were suitably concerned performances from Doug Bowden and Alison Silver as Spider’s parents.

Debbie Shipton made an elegant, but practical, Mrs Yorke, and Sally Andrews, Mark Newman and bewhiskered Paul Bromage were a magnificent trio of yokel farm-hands.

LESLEY BATES

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