Victoria from Sheffield
POWERFUL IN PLACES, CLUMSY IN OTHERS
'Eyam' is performed on an almost-bare stage, with minimal props: sparse mounds of earth represent graves, while a sheet of pink fabric is the bale of cotton in which infection-carrying fleas arrived at Eyam. This stark simplicity is powerful, and gives a sense of the village's poverty and the many difficulties its inhabitants had to contend with in addition to plague. In places it is very moving, such as when Revd Mompesson and his rival Mr Stanley unite to perform a burial. However, the poignancy is undermined by frequent clumsy moralising and quasi-political speeches about unity. The play would have conveyed the same message even more powerfully without this constant attempt to hammer it home, which only serves to make the play overlong. I also struggled to follow some dialogue as there was a lot of shouting and the actual words weren't clear. This was a problem for other audience members as well.
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