Tuesday, 24 July 2018

Theatre Review: 'The Meeting' By Charlotte Jones


Lydia Leonard - Rachel Young

Gerald Kyd - Adam Young
Jean St. Clair - Alice Thirley
Leona Allen - Tabitha Rickman
Olivia Darnley - Biddy Rickman
Jim Findley - James Rickman
Laurie Davidson - Nathaniel Burns

I had the pleasure of seeing this production on the 17th July 2018, at the Minerva Theatre which is part of the Chichester Festival Theatre.

'The Meeting' is set in Lewes, South Downs during 1805. The play centres around the five Quaker Testimonies and these are Peach, Equality, Simplicity, Truth & Integrity, and Sustainability of the planet (PESTS).

Act One begins with a Quaker meeting that is being led by Elder James Rickman.

  We then meet the Young family, and they are Adam, Rachel and Alice. Adam works as a stonemason, Rachel enjoys going for walks and speaking at Quaker meetings, and finally there's Alice who is Rachel's mother who is struggling to be heard in the Quaker community as she was born deaf; so Rachel is her voice.
  Adam needs an apprentice as his eyesight isn't as good as it used to be. Adam makes tombstones for the dead regardless of their beliefs, as everyone is treated as equals and they also don't believe in rank.
  While out walking Rachel is seen by Nathaniel. Nathaniel is invited back to Rachel and Adam's home, as Rachel wants Nathaniel to be Adam's apprentice. He is also invited to the meeting that is taking place later on that evening. When Adam gets home from work he meets Nathaniel for the first time, and Rachel explains to Adam that Nathaniel is his new apprentice. While at the Quaker meeting Adam introduces Nathaniel as his new apprentice. During the meeting Rachel speaks up about what is going on outside their community, and this in turn makes Rickman concerned about Rachel's state of mind. Rickman also wants to oversee Nathaniel's apprenticeship alongside Adam.
  Alice is making Tabitha's wedding dress, as she is set to marry a quaker man; even though she is still only young.

The beginning of the second Act starts off with another Quaker meeting but without Rachel present, as she hasn't been to a meeting for a month, and Elder Rickman is missing her not being at the meetings.

  Back home Nathaniel enters the room where Rachel is present, but they shouldn't be seen together. While at work both Nathaniel and Adam get along very well and they have a laugh together; and Nathaniel is doing really well in his apprenticeship, so Adam is hoping to start him on carving soon.
  Some time later, Rachel decides to leave her current surroundings after a confrontation took place between herself and Biddy regarding Adam. Rachel has travelled far and wide telling everywhere she visits her views, and she is being accepted into every place where she travels too. With Rachel gone; Adam will now be Alice's voice.

'The Meeting' is a gorgeous piece of theatrical writing that shows how people use their voice through verbal and non-verbal communication, while also exploring the lives of a Quaker community during the early 1800s. It also explores acceptance by showing how a community is willing to accept a stranger into their lives through an act of kindness.

This is a lovely show to watch, and every member of the cast are fantastic. There's even a 'Pride and Prejudice' moment towards the end of the first Act; which seems to be going down very well with the audiences.

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