Crabbe – Suffolk Poet
The Bank, Eye
Few could quote a line of 19th century Suffolk poet George Crabbe or tell you about his life.
Ray Rumsby’s play, for The Stuff of Dreams company, fills the gaps in our knowledge.
Crabbe’s Aldburgh background, his courtship of Sarah Elmy, attempts to be a scientist, botanist, doctor, clergyman, poet and novelist are delineated.
Thomas Wingfield’s ardent performance helps also to depict the social rejection, myopia, opium use, loss of children in infancy and his wife’s dementia that beset him.
Kiara Hawker, as the wife, has a way of being magical even in ordinariness. Hayley Evenett, in several parts, can change gender and from high to low life in a moment. Neve Doyle does similar service in a clutch of characters.
As Crabbe’s father and then his poetry character Peter Grimes, Nick Murray Brown is a force of nature. Volatile, deranged, dangerous, he looms like a figure out of the storm.
At times prior knowledge of the poems would help in following the play. But this is heartfelt and engaging theatre, directed by Cordelia Spence.