City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

The Ring of Stones Review

By Gordon Clayton - Posted on 16 August 2011

Fringe 2011: Ring of Stones
Show details
Surgeon's Hall
t-CHI Productions
Running time: 
Pete Robinson (Director), Chris Mather/Sasha Reardon (Sound)
Pete Robinson (Narrator), David Mather (Rev.Stanley), Grreg Brierley (Rowland), Susan Cox (Emmot), Dominic Williams and Gilly Chappell (Mr & Mrs Mompesson)

Forget the old saying, this is one plague you should make a point of catching!

The Ring of Stones was written by Brierley/Robinson members of t-CHI productions and tells the story of the Village of Eyam and how it was quarantined by the villagers themselves to avoid spreading the Bubonic Plague to other parts of Derbyshire.

It is a very intense piece of musical theatre only lightened by the comments of the narrator. Pete Robinson plays the part and he looks and sounds every inch of it and his links make the history come alive.

The villagers of Eyam were Cromwellians and were not happy to see Charles the Second back on the throne. One consequence of the restoration was the removal of Rev. Stanley and his replacement by Minister Mompesson. Eyam imported the plague from London by way of a cheap consignment of cloth with the tailor the first victim. The new minister and the plague arrived around the same time and Rev. Stanley (David Mather) has a very powerful song denouncing his replacement’s ‘papist’ ways.

Having seen a few shows that needed microphones, the sheer force of sound coupled with the excellent choral work was a memorable feature of this production.

Even the love songs between Greg Brierley and Susan Cox are intense and perhaps there is a need for some light and shade in the music and the script. . Plague is a serious subject but musicals need some amusement even it is ‘gallows’ humour.

The cast of mixed ages has been performing this show for some time and the direction is tight. They use all of the large stage to good effect.

While there have been plays and TV films about the History of Eyam, the writers are to be congratulated for bringing original music to the story and the show has the potential to be taken on by other companies. Tony Doyle was very good in the short-lived part of George’ the tailor before reappearing in another role.

Gillian Chappell is very convincing as the powerful wife behind the new and frustrated new minister played by Dominic Williams.

The audience were treated to the history of Eyam with its ring of stones around the village where no one was allowed in or out and with lovers left on either side was very poignant.

This is an impressive production deservedly attracting the crowds.

Runs to 20th August, 4.15pm

Tickets: £10 (£8)