REVIEW: The Croft at Cambridge Arts Theatre - three generations of weary women

PUBLISHED: 23:25 11 March 2020 | UPDATED: 23:25 11 March 2020

Lucy Doyle, Caroline Harker and Gwen Taylor in The Croft. Picture: CHARLOTTE GRAHAM

Lucy Doyle, Caroline Harker and Gwen Taylor in The Croft. Picture: CHARLOTTE GRAHAM

Archant

It’s described as a thriller but it’s more of a sigh than a scream

This play centres around women in three different eras.

In the 1870s, Enid an old woman, refuses to leave her croft in the Highlands, though she is almost the last person to live in the village and she is threatened with her home being burned to the ground.

In 2007, Ruth, a mother suffering from cancer, has the abandoned croft as a holiday home and refuses to return to civilisation for treatment - to the sorrow of her husband, lover and daughter.

In 2020, Ruth's troubled and grieving daughter, Laura returns to the croft to exorcise her demons and brings her puzzled female partner, Suzanne with her.

At times, we see all three generations at the same time and most of the cast play dual roles.

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It's an interesting idea - the ghosts that haunt a building.

Sadly, the writing is hackneyed and the performances are poor - either mannered or over the top. It's difficult to relate to anyone or care much what happens to them.

Lucy Doyle brings some humanity to the character of Eilene, the young, pregnant woman that elderly Enid takes in - and certainly contrasts that with her other part as petulant Laura.

Drew Cain as the crofter, David (and Eilene's beau Alec) offers the most natural performance and Gwen Taylor is forceful as a terrible old woman. But these glimpses of capability here and there do not make up for a weary, dreary evening.

The play drags. It seems directionless. It hasn't made up its mind what it wants to say.

The work sheds light on nothing. The characters are neither developed nor explored. It's described as a thriller but it's more of a sigh than a scream. Theatre should be engaging and entertaining and this isn't. As Laura says in the last line: 'Now we can start again'. Yes, good idea. Best to forget about the whole thing.

The Croft is at Cambridge Arts Theatre until Saturday, March 14

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