A most ingenious stage adaptation of Thomas Hardy’s novel was given by Hotbuckle Productions at the Ellen Terry Barn Theatre, Smallhythe Place, near Tenterden last week. Just four actors played the ten main roles, changing costumes, speech patterns, their very characters at a drop of a hat. The use of a few versatile props took the story forward, a farm gate at one point serving as a horse in one highly comical scene.
“Far from the Madding Crowd” is perhaps one of the most endearing and English of Hardy’s novels. It tells the story of the young farmer Gabriel Oak and his love for and pursuit of the elusive and headstrong Bathsheba Everdene. Her wayward nature however, leads her into the path of the dashing Sergeant Troy “. . . the past was yesterday; never, the day after” and the introverted and reclusive gentleman farmer, Mr Boldwood, whose love for her fills him with ” . . .a fearful sense of exposure” culminating almost inevitably in both tragedy and true love.
The Ellen Terry Barn Theatre has a fascinating history, and it continually offers a superb theatrical experience on an intimate scale by accomplished actors, yet the number of people from Rye in the audience has often been remarkably small. They do not know what they are missing.
Photo: Hotbuckle Productions