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In an English country garden...
2:54pm Thursday 6th September 2012 in Entertainments
BLOOM, FOREST FORGE, GREYFRIARS, RINGWOOD
LIKE most gardens this year, Bloom is not all a bed of roses.
Some elements grow into perfectly formed buds and then blossom beautifully while others feel a bit weedy or overblown.
But every garden is different and one of the fascinating things about this site specific production is that no two performances will be alike.
And it’s not just the venue that will change as Bloom travels around Hampshire.
Kirstie Davis’ ambitious production for Forest Forge moved audience and actors in a promenade performance around Greyfriars Community Centre on Friday; through halls, garden and courtyard, melding the talents of professional actor/musicians with various Ringwood community groups including a brass band and a judo club into the story of an English garden over the last century.
The audience, too, is encouraged to join in, helping to develop Gertrude Jekyll’s planting scheme for Langley Manor and forming a Greenham Common protest march demanding peace NOW.
While the four professionals – Helen Jeckells, Jerry Marwood, Loren O’Dair and Lee Rufford – remain a constant, the other participants will change with each venue, bringing with them a different skill set and contribution to the performance.
Friday night began like a summer garden party with cupcakes being handed out by garden gnomes and soft drinks poured from watering cans.
Ringwood and Burley Brass band treated us to a jolly medley including English Country Garden and the Floral Dance while the town’s community choir sang brightly.
But things were earthier as we moved indoors and writer Dinos Aristidou explored the history of the garden through different generations of the Langley family – its loves, losses, disappointments, sorrows and resilience in the face of adversity.
Gnomes scurry everywhere, dispensing life lessons, but it is the Langley family story that grips.
Much as I would like to, I can’t say it was all blooming marvellous but I applaud its broad sweep and the sense that I was seeing something unique, created just for us.