“We have given up our valley where many of us have lived for generations, entrusting it to you for the sake of the war. Please take good car of the church in our absence; to us it is more than stone and glass. We shall return one day and thank you for treating the village kindly.” - from The Sea Change by Joanna Rossiter.
The tiny village of Imber is about to face a wartime invasion which will drive the residents from the family homes that they have known for generations. But how do you react when the “enemy” is the War Office and the allied US troops?
At first life goes on and future wedding plans are made amidst the rations and munitions. A public meeting has been called by the military to discuss official papers; perhaps the war is over and the boys are coming home?
The news that the area is to be evacuated for the purposes of military training is met with hostility, somewhat mediated by the Reverend in his role as good shepherd. It seems to be a responsibility that he is ill equipped to deal with as he sits with a thousand-yard stare, weighed down by other worries.
Central to these is his absent son, David who seems to have taken the wrong path in life and is the subject of shame and suspicion.
When the brash American Captain decides that he can use force to take whatever he wants and write those who stand against him out of history the conflict comes closer than any D-Day preparations. A coda in the present day returns to the village to follow a family tradition and sees the church still standing and out of Ministry of Defense ownership.
This is a good looking production and the self proclaimed “one of the youngest student theatre companies at the Fringe” is clearly ambitious. Perhaps too much so, as they have not adequately dealt with the ideas of faith or the conquest over adversity that should clearly be at its heart.
Imber becomes merely a container for the various underdeveloped plot lines. The Reverend is reduced to sanctimonious spoutings and David remains resolutely in the shadows. The dramatic scene involving Captain Raymond has a certain tension but seems to have been included for this reason alone and leaves the plot unsatisfying. Further development of the characters would allow a more naturalistic style of performance.
The play takes its inspiration from true events and there are missed opportunities to use other areas of the story to bring this lost village back to life.
Show Times: 1 to 9 August 2014 (not 3) at 7:05pm
Ticket Prices: £6.00 (£4.00).