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Cadfael: The Virgin In The Ice

Published by: Steve Burbridge on 20th Mar 2013 | View all blogs by Steve Burbridge


CADFAEL: The Virgin In The Ice – Darlington Civic Theatre

Occasionally, a production comes along which promises far more than it is able to deliver – Cadfael: The Virgin in the Ice is one such production. It is a great shame as I had high hopes that this adaptation would be a memorable one for all the right reasons. After all it is produced by Middle Ground Theatre Company, the same company who brought to the stage of Darlington’s Civic Theatre a number of high-quality productions including The Holly and the Ivy, On Golden Pond and Columbo: Prescription Murder, and it has Michael Lunney at the helm, as adapter, director and designer.

Sadly, Cadfael: The Virgin in the Ice underwhelms and disappoints on many more levels than it should. Billed as “a classic medieval murder mystery”, the production is as much a victim as any of those murdered.

It is winter 1139 and raging civil war has sent many refugees fleeing north from Worcester, among them the orphaned Yves Hugonin (Daniel Murray), his beautiful sister Ermina (Hannah Burton) and a young nun, Sister Hilaria (Jenny-May Darcy). The disappearance of the aforementioned three sees Brother Cadfael (Gareth Thomas) embark upon a dangerous quest to find them.

So, the premise is fine – it’s the execution that disappoints. It is apparent that Lunney has attempted to deliver “a stunning new production”, it’s just that his ambition seems to outweigh his abilities. For the film projections, complex sets, snow-storms, bespoke music and other unnecessary gimmicks only serve to hamper the flow of the production rather than enhance it.

The fifteen-strong cast deliver decent performances overall, save for a few unintentional comic moments involving costume malfunctions, and Gareth Thomas is believable in the title role. However, try as they might, their earnest performances are not enough to detract from the amateurishness tone of the production as a whole.

Unfortunately, this production is under-rehearsed and underwhelming and, in my opinion, was nowhere near ready to be put before an audience.

Steve Burbridge.

Runs at Darlington until Saturday 23 March 2013.

To book visit or telephone 01325 486 555.


1 Comment

  • Cameron Lowe
    by Cameron Lowe 5 years ago
    Thanks, Steve. It's always sad when a production lets the actors down. It sounds like the audience can take some positives away from the performance.
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