Village Idiot

“I will be recommending this play to everyone, it’s a must see!”.

Stratford East has become the home to a wonderful story of acceptance, love and freedom. Produced by ‘Ramps on the Moon’; a company which is working hard to normalise disability in the arts both on and off stage, accessibility is the key point here, with captions displayed at every performance and a relaxed environment throughout, this is a warm welcome to the theatre scene. 

Village Idiot tells the story of the residents of a small Northamptonshire village, Syresham, who are dealing with the ‘Townies’ and the incoming HS2 rail line ploughing through their homes and community. Some people are all for it, others want to chain themselves to trees to stop the works taking place. We see all sides of the story here, with a collection of characters from all walks of life we see how important a diverse community can be. 

We are warned at the beginning that there is a lot of swearing (many F, C and S words are included) and some may be offended by some terms used – I’d recommend reading the shows advisory warnings before booking. Though nothing is done just for the shock factor and all have their place in the piece.

Every actor is a stand out in this piece, from Eileen Nicholas as Barbara, our opinionated, fouled mouthed granny with a heart of gold who holds the place she has lived her entire life so very dearly.

Faye Wiggan as Debbie is outrageously funny but also an incredibly strong character.  She teaches us that although someone has a disability, that does not mean they are incapable of living their life, learning from their mistakes and being just as happy as anyone else. Faye is given some of the best lines in the play which she delivers perfectly and I think she’s one to watch!

The relationship between Debbie and her dad Kevin played by Mark Benton is wonderfully played.  As every parent, he wants what’s best for his children and does what he thinks is right.  Mark brings a delightful warmth to the character showing that even the hardest of parents have a warm centre. 

The best bits in this play I think are the ‘Village Show’ performances, from magic to drag to scarecrow competitions, it’s got it all and they’re brilliantly written. In particular the ‘Park Pals’ rap is a stand out performance which has the audience howling with laughter. 

This play is a very much a tongue-in-cheek look at rural life, with plenty of humour, education and some sad moments. It’s a wonderful mirror being held up to society and shows us maybe some pre-conceived ideas we have aren’t always right. I will be recommending this play to everyone, it’s a must see!

This show was reviewed on the 21st April.  Village Idiot runs at the Stratford East Theatre until the 6th May 2023.  Tickets available here: Village Idiot - Stratford East

Reviewed by Rosie Browne

Photo credit: Marc Brenner

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