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Review: Havering residents feature in ‘impressive theatre experience’ at National Theatre

PUBLISHED: 10:00 30 August 2018

The cast of the National Theatre's Pericles included more than 200 people, of which Queen's Theatre in Hornchurch and Haswa were partners. Picture: James Bellorini.

The cast of the National Theatre's Pericles included more than 200 people, of which Queen's Theatre in Hornchurch and Haswa were partners. Picture: James Bellorini.

James Bellorini

With a company of more than 200 people including residents from Havering, the National Theatre’s production of Pericles was an impressive and entertaining theatre experience.

The cast of the National Theatre's Pericles included more than 200 people, of which Queen's Theatre in Hornchurch and Haswa were partners. Picture: James Bellorini.The cast of the National Theatre's Pericles included more than 200 people, of which Queen's Theatre in Hornchurch and Haswa were partners. Picture: James Bellorini.

The Queen’s Theatre in Billet Lane, Hornchurch is the National theatre’s partner on a new scheme which aims to create extraordinary acts of theatre and community.

This summer they produced a musical version of William Shakespeare’s Pericles, adapted by Chris Bush.

The show is a major collaborative effort with community partners such as the Havering Asian Social Welfare Association (Haswa), DABD, a charity for people with disabilities in Dagenham, Body & Soul, and the Bromley by Bow Centre.

Cast members included professional actors such as Ashley Zhangazha who plays prince Pericles, Ayesha Dharker as queen Simonida and Kevin Harvey as the sassy character, Boult.

Kevin Harvey as Boult in Pericles at the National Theatre. Queen's Theatre and Haswa were also partners with National Theatre's Public Acts. Picture: James Bellorini.Kevin Harvey as Boult in Pericles at the National Theatre. Queen's Theatre and Haswa were also partners with National Theatre's Public Acts. Picture: James Bellorini.

One of the best parts of the show was seeing how everyone was included, with young children and people with disabilities having speaking parts.

From the diverse cast to the worded captions at the sides of the stage for deaf listeners - the show was all about inclusivity.

The story of a prince who flees his home and meets all types of people as he travels aptly showcases the diverse talent and range of cultures on stage.

When queen Simonida’s daughter is looking for love, Bhavan centre drummers serenade the princess and when Pericles is mourning his Queen, the London Bulgarian choir perform a mesmirising song.

Gary Robson as Cleon in Pericles. Queen's Theatre and Haswa were also partners with National Theatre's Public Acts. Picture: James Bellorini.Gary Robson as Cleon in Pericles. Queen's Theatre and Haswa were also partners with National Theatre's Public Acts. Picture: James Bellorini.

From start to finish I was laughing out loud with the rest of the audience and clapping along to the songs. It was no surprise when the performers received a long standing ovation from the audience.

The play ended with an emotional song about how home necessarily isn’t where you’re born, but sometimes its about the people who support you.

Cast members repeated the same lines about home in their own languages beautifully illustrating what Public Acts aims to do, which is to bring together community and theatre.

Pericles played on the Olivier Stage at the National Theatre in London’s Southbank from August 26 - 28.

For more information about Public Acts visit nationalthreatre.org.uk/shows/pericles.

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