‘Loving April’ by Melvin Burgess, was published in September 1996. It is currently available at Amazon from £0.01 upwards. Giles Croft adapted the novel for the Oxfordshire Theatre Company who are currently on tour. I saw the 2 hour play at Chipping Norton Theatre on March 23rd.
‘Loving April’ stars Sarah Thomas-Lane (Outside Edge, Cat and No Mouse, The Emperors Clothes) as April, a deaf and dumb girl who is mistreated by boys in her village. This ‘mistreatment’ includes sexual abuse (including rape). It doesn’t matter that April can just about make noise – no-one is listening. Brilliantly played by Sarah, the pathos, the humiliation, the sadness is conveyed to the audience. In the final few seconds we even suspect that the tears shown by April are also the tears of the actress playing her, such is her commitment to the role.
To counter-balance April we have Tony, the rich boy. Admirably played by Daniel Naddafy (Snow Dragon, A Tourists Guide to Terrorism) we meet someone else who needs a friend.
But a friend from the same class, not the daughter of a char-lady.
As their relationship deepens so do prejudices surface until finally……no, I’ll not say any more.
Go and see the play – wherever and whenever you can. Read the book, immerse yourself in the story. Experience the strict social setting, imagine the beauty of April’s swan and feel repulsed by the attitude of some of the characters played by Jack Hughes (Stovepipe, Easy Virtue) and Tracey-Anne Liles (Und, Hanako, 4:48 Psychosis.)
Special praise too, to Helen Barford (Salome, ad campaigns for Tesco and Actimel) as Mrs Piggott.
Using this play as a yardstick, also go and watch Vertigo and Handful of Henna.