A Parsons Tale Review

I have been trying to catch Bob Young’s one man show A Parsons Tale for a couple of years now. He has been touring it to church and village halls around the north west since Autumn 2012 reaching even as far as Penrith in that time yet the gods of time and money or possibly both of them together have blocked my repeated attempts to catch it. Fortunately, I managed to appease said gods enough to  get myself a seat at tonight’s performance at the lovely New Millenium Theatre in Rossendale without the need for an animal sacrifice, which is just as well because my sister is quite attached to Flopsy.

A Parsons Tale is an interesting little piece weaving interesting true to life anecdotes of real pastors and reverends of the 19th century with a well balanced selection of songs in the effort by Reverend Smith to keep the audience entertained while waiting for the guest speaker Dean Hole of Rochester, plus his wife Mrs Smith and his former curate Mr Rashleigh, none of whom turn up and so Reverend Smith is left with no option but to keep the crowd warm for as long as possible the best he can.

While we should of course commend the writing which appears to have been developed with a healthy dose of passion and intelligence, the piece is truly brought to life by the passion and talent of its performer Bob Young who brings out the subtle humour of the piece while exploring the subtexts of his errant wife Mrs Smith’s activism with former curate Mr Rashleigh. To say Young is well suited to this part would be an understatement. Dressed in typical 1895 Reverend clothing Young relishes the opportunity this piece gives him to demonstrate an almost perfect level of clarity in his voice as well as producing very interesting and subtle physical movements and moments which all in all made him very watchable indeed.

I usually try to find some point of constructive feedback on shows I see, however without sounding sychophantic (which I’m not!) there is nothing I can actually say which could be considered to improve the show. It works as it is. The show is a sound, well crafted piece which works well in all areas. The real asset this piece has, beyond a performer who has a real belief in the work, is that it has chosen its audience so well. By touring to church halls and small venues in small towns A Parsons Tale assisted by New Live Theatre Company taps into a seemingly forgotten audience who have no interest in the radical and dare I say it risky fair on offer in other parts. A Parsons Tale offered  a refreshingly more relaxed yet pleasant evenings entertainment which I would recommend to anybody if that is what you are looking for.

While I’m  not sure where the show is headed to next this show is pretty much on permanent tour so keep an eye out for it in your area.


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