Cadfael: The Virgin In The Ice, World Stage Premiere, Devonshire Park Theatre, Eastbourne
Michael Lunney’s Middle Ground Theatre Company celebrates its 25th anniversary this year and to commemorate the occasion he has adapted, directed and designed one of Ellis Peters’ medieval mysteries from her Cadfael novels.
The Virgin in the Ice is a World Stage Premiere of Cadfael appearing in a theatre following the successful television series starring Derek Jacobi in 1995.
This time Richard Walsh, who played Sicknote in London’s Burning for 12 years, plays Brother Cadfael and he is excellent in the role. If you have not read the books or did not follow the series on television you will find it a bit confusing knowing who everyone is but the story is easy to follow.
The problem with adapting this particular story for the stage is there are so many different locations. Scenery is constantly being pushed around, which is a bit distracting. But the lighting,snow and wind effects and the set, especially the church,is very good and is helped by back-projections.
Stephen Beckett was well cast as the villainous Alain Le Gauchier and has an excellent theatrical voice. Civil war is raging through Shropshire in November 1139 and no-one is safe from the marauders,property is being burnt and those who can get away hide out wherever they can.
A missing teenage brother and sister is the gist of this story as Cadfael sets out to find them. Daniel Murray and Hannah Burton give good performances as the two sibling fugitives. It is a bit confusing who has been hiding them and where they have been staying but those familiar with the books will find this easier to understand.
Michael Lunney has done a good job with a difficult task and Middle Ground always bring something new to Eastbourne. They are returning before Christmas with The Holly and The Ivy.