Those of you who are fans of The Rude Mechanical Theatre Co will be pleased to hear that they are returning to Little Horsted this summer. It will be a brand new play called ‘Macbyrd’, and is a comedy thriller – and sixteen of the characters are birds! Don’t miss Inspector Seed, a pigeon, as the detective! It is set in 1940 and is about the changes to a small village in rural Sussex, Jevington, brought about by the threat of invasion, it’s impact on the local WI, the cricket club, the village play, and on relationships, and on how with the war people must take on new roles. There are two stories which link together. Up above there is a power struggle among the birds and the swan, symbol of a certain kind of traditional Englishness and social structure, is murdered by the upstart raven, Macbyrd, who resents the swan’s snobbish disregard for the poor, the sparrows. Pete Talbot, the writer and director, says, “There are, it has to be admitted, a few echoes of a certain Shakespeare play. Macbyrd is told by the ‘gypsy magpies’ that his time has come, that ‘sleek birds, black against the sky’ will rule. In fact change to the village is because a momentous event is going to happen – and I’m not going to tell you what!” Prejudice amongst the ‘oomans puts the death of the swan down to gypsies and among the birds to a foreigner, a rare Indian bushlark which has been swept in by storms. Here’s the serious bit. In the same way that Hitler represented a threat to our values, so too in people’s perceptions do other things today. How do we deal with those ‘threats’ and what indeed do our values really consist of and how should we adapt in the face of change? Inevitably base instincts like prejudice surface. In this cauldron of change the play explores the values of ordinariness (the heroism of living an ‘ordinary’ life as part of a community), leadership, love and adaptivity that remain constants in difficult times. The comedy is partly in the absurdity of the birds’ world, but also – and it is a comedy of manners – in the ways of ‘country folk’. So there’s a bit of Foyle’s War about it and a bit of ‘The Archers’ – plus quite a bit of The Rudes, too.
The show is on Tuesday 12th July on Little Horsted Primary School field, and starts at 7.30pm. Bring picnics and your own low backed chairs from 6.00pm. Don’t forget to dress up warm; even on warm summer days it can drop down cold.
Tickets are available from the Uckfield Festival Box Office and online at www.therudemechanicaltheatre.co.uk. Further information from the company on 01323-501260.
*the ticket office is now closed but you can pay on the gate