In a memorable line delivered early in this production, self-effacing hobbit Bilbo Baggins, played by an accomplished Gareth Cassidy, declares ”I can taste something in my mouth – disappointment”.
The good news is that he sidestepped disappointment to join a great adventure, and for the audience the headline joy was that this year’s eagerly awaited promenade production by Lancaster’s Dukes does not disappoint at all.
In a cast where talents are mostly evenly distributed, this proved to be a show which uses the magnificent backdrop of Williamson Park and the Ashton Memorial to outstanding effect.
There were many stars – including energetic members of The Dukes own Young Actors team, the inspired costume designs, and the fabulous props and stagings, especially hobbit Bilbo Baggins’ home .
Russell Richardson proved a patient Gandalf and Joseph Black proved especially accomplished in his comic cameos. Josie Cerise, who grew up near Chorley, was a suitably menacing Queen of the Wood Elves and Natalia Campbell was the misguided but determined Thorin. As for versatile Liam Tobin, he mastered six roles.
It is a brave company which takes on the challenge of such a well-loved and revered narrative as The Hobbit.
But even non-Tolkien fans can get an insight into the appeal of Middle Earth thanks to Kevin Dyer’s script and Joe Sumsion’s direction.
I had taken two teenagers along and they enjoyed the evening, even if the morality is broad brush stroke and this a straightforward telling of how greed doesn’t pay. It would be great for younger children.
One slight hiccup was that the sound volume for the final scene was a little out of kilter where we were sitting, with the music a little too loud and the words of a triumphant Hobbit drowned out.
But as a plus even the curse of walkabout productions – the Lancashire rain – held off for an evening and we were able to enjoy the theatre of it all.
•The Dukes Theatre production of The Hobbit continues at Williamson Park, Lancaster until August 13.