Happy Families

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The Chainers Youth Theatre are the youngsters at 15+ who are part of the Red Rose Chain Theatre company and I have to say – they never disappoint!

Happy Families was written and directed by the cast and only highlights the talent of this group.

The opening scene is a funeral, a funeral of Emma Hawes, a Victorian woman in poverty stricken Ipswich. Her daughter Mary begins her eulogy not sure what emotions to think as she didn’t feel she was a good mother… we get to see moments of Emma’s life as viewed from those at the funeral. Through this format we get to see the many colourful characters in Emma’s life told in a heartfelt, charming and funny way and get to see the tragic, yet interesting life of this Victorian woman who just tried to do her best in adversity.

This story was inspired by one simple letter which was found in Suffolk Archives of Emma apologising for stealing. From this letter, extensive research was carried out about Emma Hawes and a family history was discovered. As the actors are heavily involved with the writing and formation of the play, their engagement with it was very palpable – they were not only thoroughly enjoying bringing these fascinating characters to life they were doing it with respectful enchantment which flowed over into the audience. They were all fabulous.

The move between the present of the funeral and the flash backs were fluid yet fun, giving no confusion to those watching. The humour in such a tragic life was clever, we were laughing and sad. The interpretation of the mundane repetitive factory life with the use of faceless masks was brilliant, the use of dance ingenious, in fact, everything was superb.

I only have one complaint: It wasn’t long enough! 

I thoroughly enjoyed this story and it was executed with thought, humour, compassion and skill. These guys always put on such enjoyable performances. After the show the cast chatted about the process of getting the story to the stage and had a Q&A with the audience. This is a super way to up our already high levels of engagement. Well done to all!

Emma – Ellie Smith
Mary – Isabella Wellington
Mahala – Beth Makin
Thomas/Priest – Joseph Russell
Fran/Susannah – Violet Keys
Pratt/John – Tully Withers
Higgins – Esme Gibbs-Evans
William– Sam Garratt
Eliza/Drunk – Harrison Drane
Bertie – Rose Upson
Charles – Jessica Merson
Jabez/Bart – Rei Mordue
Herbet – Charlie Drane

For more information about Red Rose Chain click here.


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