Greenwood Dreams – The Silver Arrow, Claybody Theatre
In a beautiful church in the centre of Stoke on Trent, for the first time in 18 months, audiences were invited to be transported to another world, in the form of local company Claybody Theatre’s gorgeous choral work Greenwood Dreams – The Silver Arrow.
For 50 minutes, we follow a young girl struggling with home schooling and the four prison walls of her city centre flat. With her parents juggling working from home, following Covid-19 restrictions and keeping the family together, the tension rises and ends in a blazing row. Craving freedom, the young girl finds herself slipping into a dream, and finding herself transported a thousand years in the past in to the middle of a wood.
Sherwood Forest provides the platform for us to meet a myriad of jolly characters who lead her on an adventure of taking from the rich to subsidise the poor (a reference that doesn’t go unnoticed in our current political climate which has seen the financial divide in our population come to the fore) to conquer the evil Sheriff, and win the silver allow.
The transcendental choral work with fast-paced, intricate and witty lyrics by Deborah McAndrew and energetic, uplifting and moving music by Ashley Thompson was originally written, rehearsed and filmed during the very first lockdown in 2020 and has since been built upon to provide the full piece showcased in their first series of live performances as a company since 2019.
10 movements saw us glide seamlessly from lock down city life to dreamy tales of Robin and Marian, the Merry Men and their fight against evil. Ruben Dales as The Blackbird was a particular stand out performance with his falsetto voice that floated up and across the entire church.
With assistance from the government’s Cultural Recovery Fund an 8 strong professional cast were joined by 19 members of The Phoenix Singers in Leek who made the most beautiful sound as an ensemble.
Directed by Conrad Nelson, and designed by Dawn Allsopp, the energy from the performers and musicians created an electric atmosphere that was a treat to be a part of. The dressing of the space with foliage from local Draycott Nurseries and impressive lighting design by John Slevin was the icing on the cake.
With restrictions easing, and theatre and live performance coming back in to our lives, this performance was truly enchanting and being captivated by a live performance of exceptional musicians and singers was an incredible way to return to in-person events.