Birmingham Repertory Theatre
Thursday 28th April 2016

Every Friday night, Withernsea folk Winnie (Connie Walker) and her friend Stephen (Patrick Bridgman)  like to settle down for a pint of Guinness - Winnie being a nun of course, and during these evenings they like to have a sing-song on Stephen’s guitar, and have a ciggie round the back. They do this every Friday, just the two of them, until one evening, after a funeral service for local lad Jason, a brick is thrown into Winnie’s window, the culprit being Kayleigh (Chloe Harris), an outspoken teenager who has lost her mother and lives with her step dad. This is the set up for Folk, a poignant piece of theatre by Tom Wells, having it’s world premiere at The REP after already performing to small local villages this year.

I cannot express how heart warming this 90 minute production was to me, as I was not sure what to expect before entering, as I really had doubts, but they were soon lost within 3 minutes of the whole production, as Winnie and Stephen sang a song whilst Winnie danced around the house and cracked open two cans of Guinness. It put a massive smile on my face and left me feeling relaxed, and this continued throughout the whole production. I also really wished that I had someone who was as loving and caring, as well as funny and charismatic, as Winnie, who welcomed Kayleigh into her home and insisted on her joining the two of them in their usual Friday night gatherings.

The production then tales the tale through those Friday evenings, and sees the progression of these characters throughout those weeks; Stephen and Kayleigh’s relationship grows, with him teaching her the flutes he hand makes from the scrap pieces at his job, and this a real nice relationship which at the end makes you leave with not a dry eye in the house, because you see how far these two characters have come along, with Stephen initially not happy with Winnie allowing Kayleigh to stay after throwing the brick. We also see the progression of friendship amongst Kayleigh and Winnie too, as when Kayleigh finds out a piece of life changing news, she confides in Winnie, who is then more then welcome to have Kayleigh stay in her home for as long as she likes, even with handing Kayleigh over a key to her house.

The music is the production was extraordinary also, with an original score from Composer James Frewer, and the set also was incredibly realistic, making the homely feel to Winnie's house feel genuine, and somewhere where I myself would feel comfortable in.  The whole production balanced the light and darkness of these folk that lived in this seaside resort town, and it was just incredibly engaging to see these characters grow in front of your eyes.

Overall, Folk is a heart-warming tale of friendships and trusts, and how you can always find comfort in the unlikely of times and places, and a place that you can call home.


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