Last weekend I had the pleasure of a rather unusual theatre visit. Eastern Angles production of ‘River Lane‘ was performed in a transformed disused shopping centre unit at Serpentine Green in Peterborough. Whilst it is a professional production; staging, directing etc, the cast and many of the crew were volunteers, local people inspired to join in with Eastern Angles’ ‘Forty Years On‘ project and become part of this community play.
River Lane is written by Tony Ramsay and is set in the heart of Peterborough. It tells the story of three young friends who think they’re going to change the world. We jump from medieval times to the sixties and present day as the time streams cleverly cross throughout the show. The lead character Tom eventually returns to Peterborough after forty years and is amazed by the scale of the change. Some of these changes are cleverly portrayed through the loss of pubs. The Bull and Dolphin, a popular haunt in the sixties with a nightclub ‘The Spinning Wheel’ out the back where Desmond Decker once played is now a failed pizza joint and his other favourite, The White Lion, is now a Mexican chain restaurant.
Peterborough’s population has tripled since the sixties when The Peterborough Development Corporation was formed and it was designated a new town. Even with a swell in numbers in the city it seems that the pubs still haven’t stood the test of time. Pubs are closing around the country for all sorts of reasons, but it all boils down to one thing, we just don’t use them like we used to.
Pubs are a great centre for communities and as we slowly lose these centres we are in danger of fragmenting those communities. Eastern Angles and The Forty Years on Project has created new communities, including the 100 or so people who have been part of The River Lane production. The play itself is brilliantly written, staged and performed. It is a heart warming tale with an incredible uplifting ensemble at the end. River Lane is on until the 18th May, you can book online, if you are local to Peterborough it is a must see show!
And I nearly forgot to mention… the bar serves Adnams Solestar, Lighthouse & Spindrift!