Blackthorn at West Yorkshire Playhouse

With this being the first production from Charley Miles, as part of the Playhouse’s new writer development programme supporting new talent. I was unsure what to expect from the moment I entered the theatre and the characters were already in situ and energetically setting the scene. Immediately I could sense that this was going to be something special and the introduction was playing out the synopsis with its twists and turns.

As the characters planted the seeds for how the two lives would become entwined from being the first children to being born in a generation, through to love and loss, the audience were treated to an enchanting trip back to childhood. Charlotte Bate (Her) and Harry Egan (Him) recreate the innocence of youth in such an endearing way that the audience was hooked.

With such a small cast it can be difficult to keep the audience engaged and 90 minutes without an interval could be somewhat challenging, however there was laughter and tears and little reluctance to the format. The Blackthorn imagery acts as a reminder that change impacts on all of us, from the seasons to the small communities that are unrecognisable to the ones many years ago. We are bound by deep roots or invisible walls, as is “Her”.

I found myself experiencing a mix of emotions from reminiscing, sentimentally through to the expectations of adulthood. The return to movement as time passes kept me focussed and it spanned the story with different levels of intensity. The human condition clearly portrayed, remembering that no matter how deep you dig the roots remain. There were unanswered questions and loose ends that left the audience wanting more. I don’t think this is the last we have seen of Charley Miles. Thoroughly enjoyable catch it whilst you can.