This double bill from local Rapscallion and Old Bag theatre companies looks at the lives and importance of two women who ‘dared to care’ in courageous ways.
The first, ‘Dawn of the Silent Spring’ concerns Rachel Carson, whose 1962 book ‘Silent Spring’ first alerted the world to the catastrophic effects of uncontrolled chemical interference in the natural world, and sparked the modern environmental movement. That’s an earnest-sounding mouthful, isn’t it? The piece is anything but: witty, often comic, and tremendously energetic, it’s nevertheless hard-hitting and makes its points absolutely accurately. The cast are superb; flitting seemingly effortlessly between the deliciously daft conversations of individual mosquitoes (!); rabid agro-chemical execs ranting at the possible loss of profits; and the quiet determination of Carson herself.
The second piece ‘The Angel of Peckham’ keeps up the standard. It looks at the career and ‘downfall’ of Camilla Batmanghelidjh, the Kids Company founder, played here with uncanny accuracy by Diluki Kevityagala. Her presence is at the centre of the action, providing calm statements about her life in dangerous post-revolutionary Iran; her concern and understanding for the needs of troubled children; and her steadfastness when the political and tabloid worlds turn from fawning adoration to vicious attack. Again, she is surrounded and supported by a skilled and flexible cast; and I must mention here Tom Stentaford, the enormous energy and versatility of whose performances provides a driving force in both these productions; pieces which provide a crisply directed and tightly written demonstration of all the theatrical skills. And prove, yet again, that you don’t need to go far in this town to find talent.
John Christopher Wood