Common Ground’s, The Mariner demonstrates just how good a touring company can be

The Mariner

If there is one word to describe Common Ground’s latest production, it would be ambitious. Handsomely staged, this mix of song, music and theatre tackles both Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s life and his most famous poem, in a unique fusion of dramatization and recital.

It is a measure of Pat Whymark’s literate, intelligent text that a coherent, and fascinating, portrait of Coleridge’s troubled life emerges through the narrative, refracted through his epic poem, and counterpointed by some beautiful singing from a uniformly talented cast and choir. Richard Lounds is compelling throughout as the tortured poet, while Julian Harries does a magnificent job of breathing life into Coleridge’s dense and challenging work. Eloise Kay offers up an engaging picture of Coleridge’s long suffering wife, while Emily Bennet and Anthony Pinnick flit about furiously, playing a myriad of roles, but also providing musical accompaniment, with extraordinary aplomb.

Whymark also directs – with so many balls in the air one could only imagine this working with a clear vision and a singular purpose – and does so with passion, creativity and imagination. In doing so, the company has produced something to the very highest standards, demonstrating just how good a touring company can be.

Common Ground will be back on the 5th January with their Christmas show, The Scarlet Pipistrelle

By David Vass