An adaptation of John Bunyan’s epic A Pilgrim’s Progress for the Yard Theatre in Hackney Wick. While being true to the language and content of the original, the production steered a careful course to offer the pleasure of a classic of English Literature to atheist, agnostic and believer alike. The production drew gratefully on a hitherto untouched musical resource of pre-Victorian gallery hymns.
Assistant Director Chloe Mashiter
Designer Mila Sanders
Musical Directors Naveen Arles and Francis Roads
Choreographer Laurel Swift
Lighting Designer David Mullen
John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress is given a playful and artful adaptation by Carl Heap …there is never a moment of disengagement … we sit within the heart of the piece with lights on, cast engaging with us, and if theatrics are used, they are playfully humorous… and you can’t help but be swept up with this. It’s a feat of storytelling, and it really is a hidden gem at the Yard Theatre… Progress hits all the right marks.Clever, engaging and bursting with passionate performances.
Jake Orr A Younger Theatre
A condensed version of Bunyan’s ‘The Pilgrim’s Progress’ sounds like a daunting venture. That dense allegorical tale about a young traveller, Christian, seeking salvation isn’t known for its chuckles. Yet Beggarsbelief’s resourceful and witty adaptation, ‘A Progress’, reminds us what a pure joy theatre can be.
The Yard Theatre’s holiday-camp feel provides an apt setting for this gleefully childish production. The slapdash set and costumes might look like they’ve been stapled together, but they’re nicely evocative. Christian’s children are represented by cleverly manipulated sheets; the Giant Man is a looming silhouette, and roaring lions are played by dancing mops.
Thomas Edward-Bennett is an awesome Apollyon, his dragon-like form invoked using a bucket punched with holes, poles for arms and ragged sheets for wings. Matthew Jewson is the ideal romantic protagonist, wide-eyed and swishy-haired. Christian Jamieson’s excellent narrator is earnest when he needs to be, wonderfully droll when he does not; he establishes a brilliant rapport with the audience. By the end, the spectators were spontaneously singing along with the cast.
Miriam Gillinson Time Out ****Critics Choice (12 Users say *****)
Beggarsbelief’s delightful adaptation of Bunyan’s A Pilgrim’s Progress features a strong commitment to performers and what they can do, with little to no set and a strong cast of 8 playing all of the roles ….it is simply outstanding. All of the effects are also handled by the performers, with very little that they aren’t creating themselves … It’s all homespun and simple, but done with great effect – at no point better than with Apollyon, the destroyer, created effectively with just a bucket, two arms, two flags and some balls wrapped in material – exceptional stuff indeed.
This is all tied up with some audience interaction – we are spoken to directly, asked to hold props, sometimes even called upon to speak, which is handled effectively (if, a little predictably, some refused to take part). In short, it’s nicely directed by Carl Heap, and a credit to a company that trusts in such lo-fi effects.
Chris Hislop One Stop Arts