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Review: Musical play about Norfolk highwayman stands and delivers

PUBLISHED: 10:32 15 May 2019 | UPDATED: 10:32 15 May 2019

The cast Geir Madland, Hayley Evenett and Quinn Richards in the touring play The Honest Gentleman Picture: David Hannington

The cast Geir Madland, Hayley Evenett and Quinn Richards in the touring play The Honest Gentleman Picture: David Hannington

Archant

An Honest Gentleman, coming to Diss Corn Hall, is a light hearted and entertaining musical play that tells the story of Aylsham-born highwayman Thomas Easter.

Quinn Richards (Thomas Easter) and Hayley Evenet (Lady Elizabeth Temperance Fox) in the touring play The Honest Gentleman Picture: David HanningtonQuinn Richards (Thomas Easter) and Hayley Evenet (Lady Elizabeth Temperance Fox) in the touring play The Honest Gentleman Picture: David Hannington

The past may be a foreign country where things are done differently, however characters that live on the margins in the underworld of crime, from Robin Hood to the Krays, continue to hold endless fascination where reality and fantasy meet.

Cordelia Spence's play, performed by South Norfolk rural touring theatre company Stuff of Dreams, tells a story that weaves facts with fiction to bring Thomas Easter back to life and give him his own leather breeches legend and family show that lands somewhere between The Wicked Lady and the irreverence of the Horrible Histories.

The son of a butcher, Thomas Easter (Quinn Richards) it seems, wasn't born into a life of crime. So his motivation to leap from teenage tearaway into such a dangerous world remains a mystery throughout. His legend, then quickly becomes a very sweet love story when he comes across Lady Temperance (Hayley Evenett), who rather than marry wishes to join him in his life of crime. However, the stakes are raised and reality harshens when Dick Turpin turns up, performed with real menace by Geir Madland.

Geir Madland (Dick Turpin) threatens Quinn Richards (Thomas Easter) while Hayley Evenet (Lady Elizabeth Temperance Fox) tries to stage a rescue  in the touring play The Honest Gentleman Picture: David HanningtonGeir Madland (Dick Turpin) threatens Quinn Richards (Thomas Easter) while Hayley Evenet (Lady Elizabeth Temperance Fox) tries to stage a rescue in the touring play The Honest Gentleman Picture: David Hannington

The three actors work together to create a strong ensemble, as narrators as well as the characters they play. There are some great interactions with the audience, asides and nods to modern day sensibilities that are a strength of show. Hayley Evenett, especially, has energy and committed purpose throughout, both as narrator and as the spirited and thoughtful Lady Temperance.

Tim Lane's music and songs are beautifully atmospheric, creating a real link to the past and present, providing a pathos alongside the story telling that is a highlight of this enjoyable production.

- An Honest Gentleman will be performed at Diss Corn Hall on May 18, 7.30pm, £12 (£10 under-18s), 01379 652241, disscornhall.co.uk

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