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REVIEW: Pearls From The Grit, St George's Guildhall, King's Lynn

I was immediately aware of an enthusiastic buzz of anticipation filling the Guildhall of St. George, Lynn, when I entered to see a performance of the touring production of Dean Parkin’s Pearls From The Grit yesterday.

This was partly due to the attendance of many excited youngsters who came along and seemed to be fascinated by the story of Lowestoft’s lost fishing village, known as ‘The Grit’.

The show told the story of the fishing village from its height in the early and mid-1900s, enjoying record catches of herring worth many thousands of pounds, to its decline with the collapse of the export business to Germany and Russia and hard times in the 20s and 30s.

Pearl From The Grit (21569498)
Pearl From The Grit (21569498)

Further decline occurred during the Second World War, the 1953 flood time, and in later years; the village was demolished in the 1960s.

The show was a subtle blend of stories, poems, film and song, lasting a full 70 minutes, and the narrative enabled us to learn and gain a strong feeling for the history of the village and fishing industry from local characters, both male and female.

The atmospheric set, which included a screen for archive film extracts, and a piano played by Maurice Horhut, the show’s composer (Tickler Sam), was effectively used by the cast and the audience enjoyed the period-based songs, such as The Drifterman’s Song, Postcard Home and Happy’s Song.

The truly professional cast consisted of Sally-Ann Burnett, Tim FitzHigham and David Redgrave (with the voice of Jack Rose), and they gave first-class portrayals of the colourful past members of the Grit community, complete with those unmistakable local accents!

Cast members have East Anglian connections; great for authenticity.

Contributions were also made by members of Oulton Board and St. Mary’s Primary Schools.

Alys Kihl directed and Naomi Jaffa, of Poetry People, produced.

Well done, however, to all who contributed in making this production so evocative.

Andy Tyler

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