Country Music comes to Clapham

Leslie Manasseh talks to director, Scott Le Crass about Country Music, a play about the 20-year history of a crime

Clapham’s Omnibus Theatre will shortly be the stage for Country Music, a play written by Simon Stephens, which opens with a crime in Gravesend in 1983 and takes the audience through the next 20 years as the consequences unfold.

“It’s an expansive play about redemption and relationships and how a single event can shape a life,” says director Scott Le Crass.

He was drawn to the humanity of a story about one man trying to make amends for something he has done, but also to a simple narrative touching upon and illuminating deeper and more complex issues.

As a story about a man who has committed a crime and been through the institutions of disadvantage – the care and prison system – “it highlights that, although we are products of our circumstances, people can change and exercise choice and control”.

The central character is man who loses all power over his life but ultimately regains it, and is able to repair the damage he has caused.

Le Crass also places the play in a wider context of people who are not often heard – whether it be the working class or one of many groups on the margins of society.

He believes that working people are too often represented in a one-dimensional “doom and gloom” way and that this play acts as a counterweight – offering a more rounded portrayal which is also about hope and change.

As a director, Le Crass wants to strip back the drama to its essential elements. He talked about the challenge of this approach and of the need to find an “emotional drive” and “dramatic tension” which can power the narrative and engage the audience even when there are moments of stillness on stage.

I asked him why Bugle readers should go to see his play. He answered “Because we all know a Jamie; we all know about trying to make amends and maybe it will encourage people to reflect upon their own lives and the choices they have made”

Good reasons to go.

Country Music runs from 29 May to 24 June at The Omnibus Theatre, 1 Clapham Common, SW4 0QW. Tickets £16/£13. For further information go to www.omnibus-clapham.org or call 020 7498 4699.

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