Community Correspondent: Jacqui Smith attends Blackthorn at West Yorkshire Playhouse

Photo courtesy of West Yorkshire Playhouse

Theatre pared to the bone, storytelling at its best

By Cllr Jacqui Smith, Chair of Swillington Parish Council 

Theatre pared to the bone, storytelling at its best; Blackthorn charts the physical, emotional and intellectual development of two people born into a small rural Yorkshire village; the setting, however could be anywhere in the world, this story is about the subterfuge we allow (or feel compelled) to invade our relationships and the consequences we ultimately pay. Peeling back the layers of this story reveals changes in society – resisted and embraced, the death of community and the usurpation of a way of life.

Photo courtesy of West Yorkshire Playhouse

The narrative sets the scene and the time, the identification of the scene was helped by sensitive use of sound, occasionally I found it difficult to place the time, which relied entirely on the dialogue.  The seating in the Barber Studio leaves a lot to be desired, it’s testament to the story that the discomfort didn’t impinge significantly until the final twenty minutes or so. The Barber Studio allows the audience to get close up and intimate with the performers, I felt I was part of this production, I was at the wedding, in the pub, it resonated.

Photo courtesy of West Yorkshire Playhouse

This is Charley Miles’s first play, she has been enabled and supported by West Yorkshire Playhouse’s writer development programme Furnace, to bring this production to a wide audience, a seasoned and experienced audience which tonight spanned the adult generations and included a sizable male element, it resonated with young and old alike, some seeing the reflection of their own relationships others reflecting on the story of their own lives.

Photo courtesy of West Yorkshire Playhouse


Blackthorn runs until 17 September. It was written and developed with support from West Yorkshire Playhouse and is the first in a series of minimalist productions of new plays by Yorkshire writers as part of the Furnace Festival.

For more information please visit: www.wyp.org.uk/events/blackthorn

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