TOURING PRODUCTION 2001

 

The Watched

 

Written by Christopher William Hill

Directed by Rosie Hughes

Design concept by Christopher William Hill

Set built by Royston & Sam Wilton

Copyright Eric BerryCopyright Eric BerryCopyright Eric BerryCopyright Eric BerryCopyright Eric BerryCopyright Eric BerryCopyright Eric Berry

 

The West Briton: 'Brilliant!'

 

 

The Watched originally toured in winter 2000. The production re-toured in 2001 to even greater acclaim, with a new director, new design, two new actors and a re-written script. The new production of The Watched delved even deeper into its darkest of secrets. Its ‘rhymes, riddles and mysteries’ became a visual and physical feast of the macabre, inviting the audience to the head of Leadstone Manor's table.

Director Rosie Hughes added spice to the production with a dynamic new energy, inspiring the writer and cast to develop The Watched into an entirely fresh theatrical experience for audience and actors alike.

Staged in the round, Bedlam’s extraordinary production of The Watched was highly acclaimed for the unique audience experience and atmosphere it created. The audience was seldom more than eight feet away from the actors on stage and was surrounded by both live and pre-recorded soundscapes. Christopher William Hill’s stunning play encompasses the audience, encircling them in the disturbing world of The Watched.

Stories of ‘Once upon a time’ are woven tightly into the fabric of The Watched, with much of the mystery and suspense of the piece coming from the darkest of its narrative strands. One of the challenges set by the script is to how to marry its strong narrative elements with a distinct visual and physical style. The answer for us was to reach beyond the boundaries of realism: moving location from the manor kitchen to the moors and woods beyond without literal changes in scenery, leading to some interesting reinventions of a kitchen table and two chairs! Add to this the setting of the play in the round, and the intimacy of the actors’ relationship with the audience’s imagination - the production was both fairy tale and, ultimately, horribly real.

 

Copyright Eric BerryCopyright Eric BerryCopyright Eric BerryCopyright Eric BerryCopyright Eric BerryCopyright Eric BerryCopyright Eric Berry

 

The Cornish Guardian: ‘Innovatory ... admirably sinister’

The Stage: ‘Christopher William Hill - a raw new voice in British theatre’

 

 

Trapped within the haunting cobwebs of Leadstone Manor, a madman, a housekeeper, a groundsman, and a blind girl are thrown into turmoil by the unexpected arrival of Osgood, a travelling rat-catcher. As winter closes in around the Manor’s decaying walls, the inhabitants are forced into a game of deceit, betrayal, dark riddles and forbidding tales of ‘Once upon a time ...’

 

‘... and the farther the girl ran, the farther she had to run. With every step forward, her feet carried her another step from the village. Yet still she ran and still she was pursued, by what she did not know. For the child would not glance behind her. Dared not glance behind her ...’

 

What will the story be of?

Of a stranger. A man who comes from far away…

Where am I now, Father?

Upon a great stretch of moorland.

Is Leadstone very far?

Down below the moor…the village can be seen from where you stand. It’s dark and the weavers’ cottages throw out but feeble light.

It’s cold, Father.

The wind is blowing.

Father, it frightens me… Father? Father!

 

Copyright Eric BerryCopyright Eric BerryCopyright Eric BerryCopyright Eric Berry

 

 Cast

 

 Osgood - TJ Holmes

 Greta - Louisa Pike

 Mrs Varly - Emma Spurgin Hussey

 Mr Varly - Rory Wilton

 

 Stage Manager - Sam Wilton

Copyright Eric BerryCopyright Eric BerryCopyright Eric BerryCopyright Eric Berry

 

 

Review from Western Morning News, Monday 12th March 2001

Thrills in dark tale of murder

The Watched, Acorn Theatre, Penzance

Cornwall's Bedlam Theatre provide plenty of thrills for the audience with Christopher William Hill's play, set in the decaying and dangerous Leadstone Manor. A convoluted but convincing dark tale of madness and murder begins with the arrival of the rat-catcher.

A production which could so easily slip into melodrama, not to say hogwash and hokum, it is kept on track by Rosie Hughes' tight and imaginative direction - her use of the different levels afforded by the stage furniture is to be applauded - and by the standard of performance and commitment of the four players involved.

Presented in the round, sincerity is all important and no one is more sincere or focused than T.J Holmes as the mysterious and menacing Osgood, a rat-catching Sweeney Todd who wields a particularly wicked razor.

He gets first rate support from Louisa Pike as the attractive and appealing blind girl Greta, and Emma Spurgin Hussey and Rory Wilton as the up to their elbows in work and worry Varlys, whose cupboard rattles with the bones of more than one skeleton.

The adaptable set design by Roy and Sam Wilton lends this once-upon-a-time tale atmosphere and helps make it as believable as it is bloodthirsty.

Frank Ruhrmund

South West Arts Report: 'Bedlam Theatre Company have done a cracking job with this production. This breaks the mould.'