Taking my seat as I returned to the theatre for the first time in two-years was a treat, little did I know how much of a sensory feast I was in store for as the lights dimmed around and silence fell at the Repertory Theatre in Stoke…

Opening to a quote from Charles Dicken’s a Tale of Two cities – the latest stage production to come from the mind and pen of Catherine O’Reilly and Tim Churchill, The Turnip Field, is indeed a tale of two.

A poignant tale of two brothers set to the backdrop of Irish village life. Wrapped within the intimate surroundings of The Rep’, only served to empower the close, emotive nature of this heart warming (and at times wrenching) tale of family, sibling love and rivalry and the ties that bind us all as we journey through life.

Given the current state of the world the fact that Catherine and Tim were able to get this play written, produced, and launched is a feat and a testament to their winning formula which continues to centre humanity at its core.

It is a performance well set for the times we now find ourselves living in with actors Josh Capper and Sean Jones delivering a gloriously captivating hour-and-a-half.

Never leaving the stage it is down to the two of them to draw the soul of Catherine and Tim’s vision out and make it reality, and this is something they do – seemingly without effort – in portraying the close bonds of brothers John and Joe.

We are drawn, transported, to an authentic multi-layered story told through the interchanging use of props, original music by Jeremy Wooton, musings, hilariously acted out impersonations of the Irish village community life which the brother’s witness and evocatively soulful conversation.

Turnip-FieldNever waning in energy Josh and Sean are equally matched in driving one another in delivery of their performance, serving to continually crank up the power of the story, taking the audience through the highs and lows of life – that will resonate for many who take a seat to watch this most intimate of stories.

It is a credit to the direction of Tim in bringing to life the wonderfully emotive story of Catherine’s, that the devil is in the detail, with a stripped back stage and set being fully utilised in assisting as the third supporting actor in laying out the brothers lives before them.

I am sure that as Catherine and Tim sat in the dark at the back of the Rep theatre, they were focusing on what needs altering, re-writing and changing. For me I would implore, beseech, change not one thing.

Speaking with other members of a spellbound audience after the show had delivered its rollercoaster ride of emotions. Like myself my fellow theatre goers were left with questions, ponderings. On reflection, as all the carefully woven pieces of the story and performance came together, we shared in a comforting moment of unified realisation “Oh Yeah, of course, Wow!”.

It is a testament to the quality of the writing, direction, and performance of this production is being taken far and wide with The Turnip Field next bound for London on June 2 for a four-night run at the Turbine Theatre.
A lovingly crafted Triumph of a play. I await their next creation… For Turnip Field it’s 5 Stars

Review by Adam Gratton


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