The Gathered Leaves at Park Theatre
Talented actors and a genius script unite in this, The Gathered Leaves, making its world debut at Park Theatre over the summer. Written by Andrew Keatley and directed by Antony Eden, this tale of a family reunion gone wrong manages to be relatable, respectable and all round excellent theatre.
Set in the Easter of 1997, the Pennington family, dispersed for almost 20 years, reunite for the first time. With three generations represented, each of them is desperate to heal the wounds of the past and come together to celebrate the 75th birthday of Grandfather William (Clive Francis). Unfortunately things are not destined to run smoothly, and conflict and the pain of the past all too frequently threaten to rise and destroy the family for good.
Featuring a character with autism (played masterfully by Nick Sampson) and the very real challenges that come from caring for him, the play certainly doesn’t shrink away from larger issues, and deals with them in both impressive and humorous ways. Excellent character development and perfectly arranged dialogue make the experience incredibly realistic, effecting the sensation that the audience is spying on a real family as the drama takes hold. The set is simple, but is brought to life by the story that takes place in it: a modernist theatre space becomes a country manor house, complemented by smart decisions taken with props. It is funny, intelligent and so believable – it may even elicit a renewed love for theatre itself.
A play that amuses from the opening scene is usually a good bet, but this play, with its ability to get its audience belly laughing and on the verge of tears within the same conversation, is something special. Every actor gives a spotless performance, and the script is stunning. If you’re looking for simple, brilliant theatre, this is definitely worth going to see, possibly even twice.
Photographer: Mark Douet
The Gathered Leaves is on at Park Theatre from 15th July until 15th August 2015, for further information or to book visit here.