Review: Three lives slip out of reach in ‘Eventide’ at Tobacco Factory

 11th November 2015

Eventide by Barney Norris - Up In Arms and Arcola Production  CAST Hasan Dixon | Mark James Doherty | John Ellie Piercy | Liz COMPANY Writer | Barney Norris Director | Alice Hamilton Designer | James Perkins Lighting Designer | Simon Gethin Thomas Sound Designer | George Dennis Production Manager | Tammy Rose Company Stage Manager | Charlie Young Assistant Stage Manager | Rebecca Denby Costume Supervisor | Jennie Quirke Producer | Chloe CourtneyThe French have their street cafes, the Germans their Bierkellers, but for us Brits there aren’t more quintessentially British experiences than the Pub Beer Garden in the height of the gloriously frustrating British summertime.

Indeed, sunny days whiled away in this little corner of England, for some, define what it is to be English as much as cricket on the village green, or tales of Agincourt.

So many of us must have seen loves kindled, life changing decisions made or lives thrown away in the blink of an eye in such places.

Little wonder than that award-winning writer Barney Norris’ new play Eventide feels so familiar from the off.

Three lives thrown into this melting pot (that timeless crucible where age or class are effectively forgotten as the socially equalising effects of intoxication takes hold) are those of John (James Doherty), Mark (Hasan Dixon), & Liz (Ellie Piercy).

John, the village pub landlord is our chief protagonist and calls to mind a bigger Joe Strummer with his blunt cockney poetic intelligence. Suffering a mid-life crisis of sorts, John is in the middle of selling his pub to the ‘man’. Mark is his procrastinating junior and floats around musing on a lost love. Finally Liz is the local church organist, coming to terms with loss of her own and struggling to find her place in the world. All three are drawn together by a shared feeling that their lives are slipping out of their reach.

Eventide by Barney Norris, Up In Arms Theatre.  Hasan Dixon (Mark) & James Doherty (John) Photo by Mark Douet  I80A8202The setting for all the action is John’s Hampshire pub garden, lovingly recreated by James Perkins and his team, with trellis fencing, picnic benches and decking – the recreation is so accurate that you can almost smell the Sambuca and hear cigarette stained copies of The Sun fluttering open and shut in the wind.

Whilst the story and setting are, as previously noted, most familiar, the performances by the cast really bring the story to life with James Doherty particularly capturing the true desperation of a man appearing to be unwittingly trapped in his life, but almost unwilling to do anything seriously about it.

As English as it comes, Eventide provides a striking glimpse into the British psyche and leaves you musing on how easy it is to slip into a life you cannot get out of.

To get tickets, or find out more click here.

Kevin McGough
Photos by Mark Douet