Blackthorn by Charley Miles @ Summerhall

Achingly honest drama following two people, both the only children born in a North Yorkshire village for a generation, over the course of their life

Review by Deborah Klayman | 14 Aug 2018

As the only children born in a North Yorkshire village in 20 years, two characters – referred to only as Her and Him – forge a special bond. Over 30 years of friendship, they gradually grow further apart as both they, and the farming community they come from, are irrevocably changed.

Presented by InSite Performance in association with the Leeds Playhouse, Charley Miles’ debut play is, on the surface, sweet and gentle, yet contains a pointed message about the gentrification of farming communities. As farmers change what they produce to try and meet the whims and trends of the urban consumer and communities shrink in size, it is impossible to keep things “as they always were”.

Charlotte Bate and Harry Egan are both outstanding in this touching tale. As the audience watch, they grow up and away from each other while remaining tethered to their shared home. Bate’s character goes off to university, leaving Egan’s behind to work the land. When she returns, she expects that everything will be as she left it, but with each visit more and more has changed. Their love story is the spine of the play, and at times it's truly heart-wrenching. They are never in the same place, emotionally or physically; part of you wants them to be together but equally you know that would be a disaster for them both.

The dynamic movement aspects of the piece, choreographed by Natasha Harrison, are beautifully integrated and expose so much of the unspoken emotion between the two. Deftly directed by Jacqui Honess-Martin, this thoughtful play is expertly performed and achingly honest.

Blackthorn by Charley Miles, Summerhall (Roundabout), 1-26 Aug (not 7, 14 & 21) £12-15

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