Hot. Young. Talent. Three words not usually associated with the rural county of Suffolk. Still, in the case of East Anglia’s premier playwright, Joel Horwood, the tag is becoming hard to ignore. After successful Fringe runs in 2005 with Mikey The Pikey
and last year with Food,
Horwood returns this year with a cleverly observed musical meditation on the complexities of rural life.
In the Wild East of Leiston, Suffolk, twin brothers Charlie and Dim battle with the claustrophobia of country life. Charlie is a frustrated bull-semen salesman, Dim a hapless paperboy. Surrounded by a web of family lies and parochial gossip, the pair desperately grapple with their identities, pulling and pushing each other in opposing directions.
Horwood chooses to leave many questions unanswered until the end, relying on the brothers’ warm rapport to keep the complex narrative ticking over. It’s a clever tactic and ably handled by actors Carl Prekopp and Joseph Arkley, who make full use of Horwood’s naturalistic script to fully bring the characters alive.
As the play spirals towards a catastrophic showdown, Horwood plays his final card, guiding the story towards a softer, more circular ending. But this is no kop out. Horwood, it seems, does not want to give us tragedy but instead make a point about human frailty, evident in all, and often at odds with small-town moral protocol.