A golden Cider for the summer

Cider With Rosie Halifax Thespians Halifax Playhouse

LAURIE Lee's poetic evocations of his native Cotswolds translate easily to the stage in this imaginative adaptation by James Roose-Evans.

Colin Fine, on stage throughout, puts in the most inspired performance as the older Laurie, reminiscing about his childhood just after the Great War. Not only has he mastered the soft Gloucestershire tones, his delivery is pitch perfect, sounding just the right note of celebratory wistfulness for the long-gone rural idyll. Alex Bryan is no less assured as the young Laurie, living the arcadian dream without knowing it, fussed over by his sisters, Phyll (Christine Johnson), Doth (Melissa Wadsworth) and Marge (Katy-Faye Moorhouse) and dragged around by his older brothers, Jack (Luke Garbutt) and Tony (Paul Phillips).

At the centre of the wonderfully rambling household is Mother, whose sudden flights of fancy and warm-hearted charms are done full justice by Pam Asling.

Long-suffering and unfailingly optimistic, she is the real heroine – not the eponymous Rosie, played by Katy-Faye Moorhouse, who makes a fleeting appearance one drowsy afternoon when the cider flows. With a strong ensemble cast, under Alistair Cheetham's sensitive direction, this remarkable book works well on stage and thanks to Colin Fine loses none of its chief delight – the beautiful cadences of English prose at its poetical best.

Andrew Liddle