Review of The Croft - Darlington Hippodrome
By Andrew Harrison - Arts critic
SET in a former crofter’s hut on The Applecross Peninsula in the remote Scottish Highlands ‘The Croft’ is billed as a thriller, but is much more than that.
The play covers three different times and begins in the present day with Laura, in her 20’s, returning to the family croft on her first visit since her mother’s death from cancer. It is not long before it’s clear that she is there with issues to resolve. Joining Laura is her new lover Suzanne, Caroline Harker, an older woman with two teenage sons and a failing marriage. Initially there is the sense of the new relationship developing, but the remoteness soon becomes an issue for Suzanne with the lack of mobile signal and the nearest shop a 45-minute round trip. The appearance of David, Drew Cain, who is keeping an eye on the croft for Laura’s father, certainly unsettles Laura.
Scenes move to the time when Laura’s mum, Ruth, also played by Caroline Harker, was suffering from cancer and spends her time with David, rather than her husband, Tom, Simon Roberts. The final period we enter is much earlier taking us back to 1870 and the time of the Highland Clearances, where Enid, Gwen Taylor, lives in the croft and has taken in a young girl, Eilene, also played by Lucy Doyle. With themes that seamlessly flow between the time periods, naturally creating a darker sense as the 1870s merge with the present day through the half face at the window, door slamming and lights flickering creating a ghostly presence throughout.
The cast swiftly move between the time periods until they finally collide with each other. This tightly directed production will draw you in from the initial feeling of fresh family life to surprising conclusions.