captivating and enthralling adaptation of Michael Morpurgo's Farm Boy was delivered by New Perspectives Theatre Company.
A warmth and connection between the grandson and his grandfather was portrayed with close proximity on stage and subtle body language from the actors (Gareth Bennett-Ryan and John Walters). There were moments where it almost felt like the audience was intruding on this caring relationship and we were just fortunate enough to be sharing this unity.
In contrast to this close emotion, the actors knew the exact times to inject pace. Gareth would grasp the audience with his narration, exaggerated arm gestures and infectious giggles. As the grandson, he excelled at finishing his grandfather's sentences, once again reflecting the bond between the characters.
Props on the stage were minimal (and they needed to be) as all the focus was on the life-sized replica of a 1920s Fordson tractor. All stories and movement revolved around the machine.
The original music brought the performance to life. As the piano accompaniment echoed around the theatre, we were with them on the Devon farm, we were with the grandfather watching the nesting swallows and we were with the two characters as the boy helped the old farmer to learn to read and write.
Daniel Buckroyd's adaptation reached its climax with the tale of the plough competition and the explanation for why the old Fordson tractor was on the farm. Gary evoked humour with his additional roles and the tale of the contest was expressed with energy, tenderness and enthusiasm.
Cheers could be heard from the audience as the grandfather recounted the moment when his father was victorious in the competition.
The short, yet perfectly timed, performance at the Landmark Theatre was brought to an end when the grandson (having made the decision to move from Leeds to his grandfather's Devon farm) sits proudly astride the Fordson tractor and it splutters into action.
It is such a poignant story to our farming community and a North Devon theatre was the perfect place to watch the production.