My book of Lincolnshire Folk Tales (see side tab on this website) is due out on 8th October. It includes the following Legends which I have translated but left virtually unedited - Yallery Brown, Fred the Fool, A Pottle of Brains, The Dead Moon, Tiddy Mun and The Green Mist. I have also included Coat of Clay and Tattercoats, tales which were also collected by Marie Balfour in North Lincolnshire.
Review of Dark Earth at Flag Fen
Posted by Maureen James - Sunday 15th September 2013
Those interested in the history of the drainage of the fens should go to see this new imaginative play by Forbes Bramble.
Performed over two long weekends in a (relatively well insulated) marquee set in the ancient landscape of Flag Fen near Peterborough, this community play tells the story of how, in 1790, the people of Oxay Fen rebel against the venture capitalists and the Dutch drainage engineers who threaten their livelihood of fishing and fowling.
This Eastern Angles play, directed by Naomi Jones involves a cast of over 30 local people playing the diverse parts, with a number of them also skilfully using puppets to recreate the wildlife of the seventeenth century wetland.
The two hours and forty five minutes (including the interval) of Dark Earth flew by as I became completely involved in the story as it played out in front of me.
Of particular interest to me was the reference to Tiddy Mun, the little man “without a name” who forms the focus of the Legend of that name, which was collected in the 1880s in Ancholme Carrs of North Lincolnshire.
I was particularly impressed by the heartfelt performances, by Jonni Hilton as Emms the Vicar; Pete Unwin as John Sylham and Lucy Formby as Katja de Vries and by the strength of the characters portrayed by David Feltell (Peter Dade); Rebecca Owen Fisher (Clara Hare) and Brian Haswell (Felix).
Also impressive was the use of the Dark Earth performance space. Whilst simple in appearance, it showed sophistication such that we, the audience were given the vision of a fen punt (with gun), the interior of a Restoration house; a pulpit; blacksmiths workshop and even a frozen river, all with the minimum of props.
The performance, not quite in the round, also skilfully played to both sets of banked seats and was very effective. However, when it came to the finale, it would have been nice if the cast could have swapped sides, part way through their bows, so the audience could get a chance to see, and applaud, all of them.
The costumes also show attention to detail (though as an historian I did notice the wearing of modern spectacles and some not so authentic shoes/boots) as does the choreography, particularly the fen skating scene .
Though slightly pricey (£12, or £10 concessions), Dark Earth, a tale of love, loss, life, death and drainage, is well worth seeing. Though hurry it is only on for one more weekend.
Tickets can be purchased from the Box Office on 01473 211498, or www.easternangles.co.uk
Short interviews with the writer and director can be found by following this link
I am still hoping to run another one day workshop to explore the Legends of the Carrs, possibly at Sheffield University.
During the day participants will explore the economic and social landscape in Lincolnshire at the time, the ecological aspects of the stories and the folklore and dialects of the county. The day will end with a look at modern interpretations and uses of the stories.
If you would like to offer a venue for a workshop or wish to be kept informed of future plans please contact me using the tab at the top of this page, or just keep checking this page periodically.