Ann Davidson with Newbury Dramatic Society - WESSEX AND HARDY: on the cusp of change. The essence of Hardy’s loves and passions, his regrets and melancholy is captured here in a skilfully written new play by Ann Davidson

WESSEX AND HARDY: On the Cusp of Change.

The essence of Hardy’s loves and passions, his regrets and melancholy is captured here in a skilfully written new play by Ann Davidson.  This is an inspired gentle production, staged this week in a variety of venues (including Fawley Church and Kingsclere Library) around Newbury -  which Hardy lived in and loved. 

Aficionados of Hardy know his strong connections with Newbury.  At The Chequers Hotel in Newbury, on the Hardy Trail, a large audience was immediately entranced by sounds of the cow byre,  Butterworth’s evocative music and one of Hardy’s beloved bucolic poems..  Newbury Dramatic Society’s experienced, confident cast engage us through character, vignettes, few props, expressive costume, chairs and low lighting.  Delicate portrayals include a fine winsome Tess, an upright Hardy, readings, poetry and singing. Unsentimental succinct, the production holds us in the world of farm labourers and milkmaids, the reddiman and the love potion man, their concerns and their hopes.

Davidson’s skills of succinct yet sensitive writing and directing are impressive. The gentle paced production highlights hidden gems (did you know Hardy’s father was a stonemason?), all this In an hour or so, the cast’s flowing movement between vignettes and conversations between the milkmaids and labourers with strong Dorset lilt.  

Today our farmers too have many concerns about changes, climate particularly.  By contrast Hardy’s world is now so far away in time capturing the 19th century world’s simple pleasures as well as its fears and concerns over threshing machines. The women’s fragility and vulnerability and strength shine through.


Dates and Venues:

  • Friday 24th May | Chequers Hotel, Newbury
  • Tuesday 28th May | Kingsclere Library
  • Wednesday 29th May | St Michaels Church, Enborne
  • Thursday 30th May | Fawley Church, Fawley
  • Friday 31st May | Catholic Hall. Lambourn

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