The Tale of Little Bevan
The Tale of Little Bevan, written by Robert Alan Evans, is a modern-day fairytale that explores the lives of three members of a small village community over the course of a day while connections are made and secrets uncovered.
We are first introduced to Tony, and then to Mikey, whose stories are mostly interwoven. Tony was a semi-renowned historian until seven years ago, when his mother had a fall and he was forced to return home to care for her. He has gradually lost hope in life since, while struggling with writer’s block over his book on St. Agathus; but after a family heirloom is accidentally broken, he finds the first clue to the answer to all of his questions.
Mikey is Tony’s 15 year-old next door neighbour, who at the beginning hides in Tony’s shed in order to use his Wi-Fi and arrange to meet an older guy in a local pub; but on arriving at the pub, Mikey gets cold feet. Tony and Mikey meet again later, when they both find themselves stranded in the secret tunnels below the village, and discuss a secret or two of their own.
The third character we are introduced to is Gill, whose story only connects with Tony’s and Mikey’s at the climax. Gill hosts the annual Harvest Moon party, and as an act of premeditated revenge decides to expose all of the village’s secrets. Though not the empowering moment she may have hoped for, this is a great reminder of how politeness can quickly become toxic without open communication.
The performers - Owen Aaronovitch, Annie Grace and Andy Peppiette - narrate between stepping into the various characters that reside in Little Bevan. Each of their diverse portrayals instantly evokes the image of a distinct and relatable character, making the entire village come alive in our minds.
When writing this piece, Evans responded to the experiences, thoughts and concerns of members of rural communities across East Anglia; and the product of this research is an example of expert storytelling, starting slowly, teasingly, with intrigue and mystery, and building gradually to an exciting finale. The engagement comes not just in the storylines - of Tony’s treasure hunt, Mikey’s blind date or Gill’s party - but also in the personalities of the characters that we get to know briefly yet thoroughly.
The effective storytelling is made even more impressive by the live music and original songs played by the performers to accompany many of the scenes. Together with the diverse set, which transforms from a domestic garden to autumnal woods to cavernous tunnels with a simplistic genius, these elements make for a complete theatrical experience.
The Tale of Little Bevan is a fully engaging and unpredictable story about community and honesty - about who we are and where we’re from - that anyone will be able to find magic in. A Pentabus Theatre production (co-commissioned by Creative Arts East) that toured the UK in autumn 2019, it is currently available to watch online for free.
Luke Spiby for Canal St Online.
Published: 5-May-2020 (5858)