IT must first be said that the Barn Theatre’s production of this controversial drama was an amazing piece of theatre.
The bravura performance by Andrew Powell as Johnny ‘Rooster’ Byron, the hyper-charismatic drop-out, was stunning and will long remain long in the memory.
Requiring constant stage presence and displaying a wide variety of emotions, ranging from tenderness, humour, violence, fantasy and philosophising, the actor never faltered in the powerful monologues, soliloquies and dialogues.
Set in rural Wiltshire, Rooster and his young, drugged and booze-swilling followers celebrate St George’s Day in the illegal encampment which is under threat from the local council in response to protests from residents of the nearby respectable new housing estate.
The ensuing action gave the young cast opportunities to shine, namely Ginger (David Rapp); Lee (Dale Brewster); Davey (Tallan Cameron); two young girls, Pea (Rosie Thomas) and Tanya (Ellen Myers) and Phaedra the fairy-like May Queen (Philippa Cox).
It was her stepfather Troy (Pete Dawson) and his gang who viciously attack Rooster towards the end of the play.
Other roles were significantly performed, in this complex, disturbing and thought-provoking exploration of tensions within modern life where the dichotomy in the British character – rebels and conformists – objectors to travellers and those who, deep down, may wish to run away and join the circus.
The set, music and bird song created an all-pervading atmosphere in this production which did justice in no small measure to this much discussed drama.
But it was the overwhelmingly powerful performance of Andrew Powell that remains in the mind.