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Elephant - fEAST Theatre (13.06.2024)

Tension, intrigue, and a foreboding atmosphere were in abundance as fEAST Theatre's latest production began its tour of Norfolk and Suffolk in Sheringham last night.

Written by North Norfolk-raised writer, Jeremy Page, Elephant centres around Manny, the sole occupant of a cliff-top house rapidly being lost to the sea. His reclusive existence is interrupted with the unexpected visit of his estranged sister, Jessie, who has a man tied up in the boot of her car. They are later joined by Cally, an ethereal figure from Jessie’s past, and from there, as the house ekes closer to the edge, motives become clearer, and things start to fall apart, both figuratively and literally.

The four-strong cast, each with their very distinct characters, were on top form, helping to deliver the rich dialogue with such precision and clarity, even when the pacing moved to breakneck speed.

Robin McLoughlin as Manny, gave a superb measured performance with his grounded persona and calm patterns of speech. He was the linchpin of the show, remaining a centred presence throughout whilst others lost their heads, and though he didn't have as much to say as his motormouth sister, his delivery commanded a certain gravitas whenever he spoke.

Henri Merriam as damaged, delinquent sister Jessie was very much the cheese to Manny's chalk, offering up an excellent eye-catching performance full of anxious, edgy energy and physicality. Ben Elder was also a marvel as the initially bound-and-gagged character called Lee Farrier. Once freed from the boot of Jessie's car, Elder gave Lee a masculine swagger and confidence, which initially adds a humorous side to the story, but then his portrayal later takes a more sinister turn. Rachael Cummins as Cally brought an other-worldly intensity to her character, and though she had a little less to play with than the other three characters, had a wonderfully magnetic presence on stage.

The story itself was brilliantly crafted, with very real characters, yet ever-so-slightly surrealist in nature. I must admit to having been initially confused by certain characters' behaviours in the first half, but then with a clever twist in the narrative, their motivations became clear.

Given that Norfolk has part of the fastest eroding coastline in northwestern Europe, it's a play that also brings a certain level of poignancy to the audiences it's playing to, and this was enhanced by the deliberately wonky (or 'on the huh') set design from Fern Blevins. It very effectively helped to create a feeling of unease - the attention to detail, including cardboard boxes trimmed to appear as if leaning was most impressive - and served as a constant reminder of the peril that Manny is living with.

It was a thoroughly absorbing show produced by a very talented company, and one which I'd urge you to give a watch if you get the chance. Elephant continues its tour of venues in Norfolk and Suffolk until the 29th June. For full details of dates and venues, visit


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