Fifty Shades of Summer, Ghyll Farm
The managing committee of Crowborough Arts gave this Celebration of High Summer its quirky title, with a sub-title of ‘The Permissive Garden’.
Although neither contained hidden meanings!
Instead, it was a cleverly constructed pot-pourri of readings, songs and music, which a group of talented local performers staged, thanks to the generosity of Ian and Julia Ball, in the gardens of Ghyll Farm, where the sun-drenched trees of Crowborough Beacon Golf Club provided a backdrop of fifty shades of green.
Devised and directed by Julia, the show included ‘Summertime’ from Porgy & Bess (Alice Barnard; Dylan Thomas’s evocative ‘Seaside’ (David Homewood); a spirited rendering of ‘Oh, I do like to be beside the seaside’ (Norman Wood, accompanied by Caroline Keen on oboe); John Godber’s wistful ‘September in the Rain’ (Mary Corney); a sensitive reading of ‘First bite at the Apple’ from Cider with Rosie (Tom Ellis); plus the moving ballad ‘I sit in the sun’ from Salad Days (Hannah Boxall, accompanied by Mary Collins).
Summer sports were not neglected with tennis and cricket amusingly recalled in ‘Thwock’ (Damian Kennaby) and ‘Skirting the Boundary’ (Gaye Jee).
Unsurprisingly, gardens featured prominently, with ‘Come into the Garden, Maud’ being firmly rejected by Joyce Grenfell’s ‘Maud Replies’ (Angela Vernon Bates, accompanied by Peter Land). It was no surprise to find fairies, four delightful young dancers from the Susanna Cox Academy, at the bottom of the garden.
The programme concluded with the scene from ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ where Shakespeare’s Rude Mechanicals stage their slapstick play. This included Pyramus (Phil Bromham) and Moonshine (Steve Williamson), with Dominic Clark on trumpet. Hopefully Crowborugh Arts will make this immaculately performed confection an annual event. As the Bard so aptly put it, “Summer’s lease has all too short a date”.
By Roger Paine