fEAST Theatre

Formed in 2010, fEAST theatre continues to develop and showcase new work by professional theatre-makers from the East of England and beyond.

“bringing original and vibrant theatre to our region”

The Eastern Daily Press



The Hollyhock Trilogy

Review by George Norton

The Hollyhock Trilogy, the latest offering from the innovative fEast Theatre, is a trio of plays by Rob John – two monologues and a longer two-hander – all of which deal with loneliness and the search for love.

In the first, Post, we meet Sue on her fiftieth birthday as she awaits the arrival of her postman, Pat. ‘Do you have a black and white cat?’ she has asked when they first meet; Sue tells us that Pat laughed uproariously at this witticism. Still grieving the death of her domineering father and excluded from nights out with her Pilates class, Sue has developed a hierarchy of ‘potential scenarios’ about Pat (the f-word – fantasies – is not to be used in relation to him) to alleviate the lonely life she leads with Barbara, her dog. Dawn Finnerty’s sympathetic performance shows us that, very probably, Sue is only too aware of the ridiculousness of these potential scenarios with the impressively belegged, Carbonara-serving Pat, and this makes her situation all the sadder.

The second play, Gravity, tells the story of Frankie Mulligan, years ago the ‘catcher’ in an aerialist circus act. (You’d never think it to look at him now.) Although Frankie, like Sue, isn’t ‘a social animal’, he still manages to attract the attentions of Bella and Maria, his airborne co-stars. It doesn’t end at all well but a later visit to an upmarket Hoxton bakery affords us the frailest of hopes for Frankie’s romantic future (and some sharp jokes about the price of baked goods in London).

Another tentative romance between accountant-turned-gardener, Graham, and primary schoolteacher, Cath is the subject of the final piece, Hollyhocks. As the pair come together, awkwardly and uneasily, difficult truths from their pasts are revealed and the writing takes on a much darker tone. Again, the ending has a brittle optimism but asks difficult questions about what we’re prepared to ignore when looking for love.

On the night I saw The Hollyhock Trilogy, Robin McLoughlin was a late replacement for the stricken Owen Evans, playing both Frankie Mulligan and gentle, self-effacing Graham. He was splendid in both roles, a confident but subtle stage presence; I quickly forgot he was reading his lines.

Cupcakes feature in each of these sad, funny plays but they are linked by far more than confectionary. All are meditations on the need to be loved, and the miscommunications, evasions and inevitable compromises involved in romantic relationships. All three also reflect on the nature of stories and of story-telling, and the connections between stories and romance. Together they make for a compelling and thought-provoking evening.

The Hollyhock Trilogy tours various Norfolk venues until 17 March; catch it if you can.

For tour dates, venues and booking info please click here.

The Hollyhock Trilogy

fEAST Theatre one of the region’s leading touring theatre companies will be bringing a brand new show to venues across Norfolk in February and March.

Written by Rob John (The Canada Boys / Rosa Mendoza) The Hollyhock Trilogy presents three strange but poignant love stories.

A woman reveals an unrequited passion for her postman, an aging trapeze artist dreams of the beautiful woman who dropped him and a chance remark about hollyhocks changes the lives of two strangers for ever.

‘We want to take our audience on three separate but connected journeys,’ says Rob John. ‘This is a show about people in love but it’s also a show about story-telling ; the magic of sitting down in a darkened room and listening to a story.’

‘It turned out that wasn’t the end of the story. In a way it was just the beginning.’

For tour dates, venues and booking info please click here.

Hollyhock picture two people sitting in front of Hollyhocks

Starring Owen Evans (The Nimmo Twins)  and Dawn Finnerty (The Canada Boys /Rosa Mendoza) fEAST Theatre promises that ‘these darkly funny tales of loneliness and lust are guaranteed to warm the coldest winter evening.’

Successful and strong relationships Feast have built

In thirteen years of touring we are proud to have built strong relationships with many of the regions theatres and communities. In these challenging times we are grateful for the support and encouragement which these venues continue to offer us. Here are some things they’ve had to say about fEAST Theatre.

Sheringham Little Theatre & St Georges Theatre Yarmouth

The Little Theatre is honoured to have been involved from the beginning of the incredible fEAST Theatre journey in 2010. I knew it was something special, because of the people and their artistic ethos. Every show has been of the highest standard and they have built up such an eclectic mix of work. We always need to book extra shows in, as they sell out in Sheringham and are so popular.  I programme them into St. George’s Theatre in Great Yarmouth and they are building audiences there too. People look forward to what their next venture will be and so do I!

Debbie Thompson

Wells Maltings

The relationship between Wells Maltings and fEAST goes back many years; since we reopened in 2018 their work has been a central pillar of our live theatre programming. fEAST’s creative process is second to none, they are a joy to work with, and their ethos matches our own exactly. Their touring work has been supplemented by commissions for Christmas shows every year since 2019, too. We value our relationship with fEAST hugely – the company is part of the Maltings’ family.

Simon Daykin

The Seagull

The Seagull has been proud to work with fEAST Theatre for a number of years and have always been impressed with both the quality and breadth of the productions produced. As a community focused venue we are always keen to bring high quality drama into our town, and as such fEAST have been an important partner in being able to delivery a very high standard of artistic quality alongside a reasonable and affordable ticket price. This combination of quality and value for money has been a touchstone of fEAST theatre and has helped them to grow their reach within our deprived community.

Des Reynolds

Westacre Theatre

Westacre Theatre is always proud and eager to present whatever fEAST have on offer. Their productions are always of the highest standard, and our audience loves them to the extent that we can almost guarantee to sell out. Our relationship with this excellent touring theatre company began in 2015 and we very much hope it continues long into the future, fEAST are always welcome here at Westacre!

Sadie Grist

Southwold Arts Centre

We have had several excellent productions by fEAST at Southwold Arts Centre in the last few years, including Dulcie and Walter, Rosa Mendoza and Canada Boys.  All have been characterised by very original scripts with a local connection, excellent production and outstanding acting. They are one of the best touring theatre groups in East Anglia. We look forward to welcoming their next production to Southwold.

Michael Rowan-Robinson
Chair of Trustees, Southwold Arts Centre

Sedgeford Village Hall

Sedgeford Village Hall is the only venue in west Norfolk that hosts professional theatre and we’ve been at it now for around a decade. We first met fEast in 2016 and have seen six of their plays since then, all of which have been to the same high standard. The Company always prompts a great reaction from our audience and selling tickets is easy when people appreciate what they’re in for.

On a personal note I aim to book a slot with fEAST without knowing what their play is about or having to consider whether it will go down well…it will, and always does! The Company is approachable (nice people), and I’m delighted to say they love playing Sedgeford… we can’t wait for their next one.

Dave Carter
Entertainment Manager

Corn Hall Diss

We have only had the opportunity to programme two fEAST productions so far – Dulcie & Walter in July 2021 and The Canada Boys in February 2022 – but were blown away by the quality of the work presented on both occasions. The company is a dream to work with too which is no small thing when times are tough. They’re efficient, have good marketing and are lovely to boot. As a venue programmer I would gladly include any fEAST production in my programme, indeed I have been in touch to make sure I am part of their next tour.

It’s not only the quality of the writing, acting and general production values that make fEAST Theatre’s work so important, it is the fact that their work has real local resonance and generates a genuine and heartfelt response from the audience. Nothing demonstrates the vital importance of live performance better than that.

Angela Sykes
Programme Manager

Corn Hall Contd.

This review of Canada Boys by one of our regular, and often hard to please customers expresses this much more eloquently:

Rescheduled over the last couple of years due to Covid, we had to wait a long time to see fEAST Theatre’s production of The Canada Boys. Fortunately, it proved to be well worth the wait. Rob John’s fictionalised account of the J &J Colman’s sponsored emigration to Canada was one the finest productions seen at the Corn Hall for a very long time.

At the beginning of the last century, eighteen men were offered the chance to start a new life in Canada, rather than face the impending unemployment that was sweeping across Norfolk.

From the bare bones of these facts, fEAST Theatre have created a moving and absorbing tale of two brothers, torn between responsibilities at home and opportunity abroad. The play was certainly an education – it was fascinating to learn of the Colman family’s philanthropy – but this was no hagiography. On the contrary, the dramatic tension between the brothers, arguing over the motives of their employers, provided the backbone to what was essentially a domestic drama about familial conflict.

The ensemble cast were uniformly excellent and (despite the narrative revolving around the brothers) Rob John gave both Tabitha Woodgett and Dawn Finnerty unusually rounded roles to inhabit, as the respective love interests of the men. Central to the drama, however, was the brilliant portrayal of fraternal love.

A combination of sharp writing and superb performances from both Robin McLoughlin and Owen Evans brought to life the feisty, querulous relationship of the Craske brothers in a way rarely seen on stage or screen. I think you have to be the brother of a brother to appreciate just how good they were.The shadow of the Great War hanging over the drama allowed Rob John to craft a satisfying and sure-footed conclusion to a play that was an outstanding night at the theatre which swept its audience along. With an emotional depth and humanity that went far beyond its potentially parochial source material, The Canada Boys was a stunning drama that resonated with universal truths.

David Vass