Review: Sid & Hettie

I’ve long been a fan of the Eastern Angles for their thought-provoking productions, but I have to admit they have surpassed themselves this time.

Sid & Hettie is a beautifully written piece, it’s a story of love and life, heartache and laughter. Sid is an old soldier in the latter days of his long life, now living in a care home and wanting to join with old war colleagues on the beaches of Normandy just one more time.

Throughout this piece we learn of Sid’s life, how he met his one true love, Hettie. Of their life, the war of which Sid doesn’t really speak, their lives through good times and bad.

This is a story that will strike a chord with many as it is the story of many. In 2014 Eastern Angles’ Jon Tavener was involved in a project which saw him spending time with a group in care homes where residents volunteered to talk about their lives. Over 70 hours were recorded and it is from the transcripts that Sid & Hettie has evolved.

From the stories he heard Jon has woven a tale of two ordinary Suffolk people. The tale is of two people but the words are those spoken by many of those that he interviewed.

Jon is better known to visitors to the Sir John Mills Theatre as the man behind the Box Office counter, but watching this you will see there’s far more to him than selling tickets, he is a very very gifted writer.

Francis Woolf plays Sid and Rosalind Steele is Hettie, the pair excel and bring Jon’s script to life with passion and compassion.

You feel you could be listening to the tale being told by your father or grandfather, mother or grandmother and this is perhaps the biggest lesson to be learnt from Jon’s work. Too often we do not listen, too often we do not write down the stories of our older loved ones. It is only after they have left us that there is so much that is unknown.

Hopefully after watching Sid & Hettie more of us will be inspired to sit down and listen to the stories of our families.

This really is the best new work of 2015 and deserves a much much longer run than just two days.

• Sid & Hettie, Eastern Angles, 24th & 25th July, 2015. Box office 01473 211498

Mark Keable, Ipswich24 magazine