• The Roses of Eyam

The Roses of Eyam

Production Information

Tuesday 4 October 1988 to Saturday 8 October 1988 (5 performances)
at Hampton Court Theatre, Hampton Court House, Surrey, United Kingdom

The Roses of Eyam
by Don Taylor
A remarkable and true story of a village in 1666 stricken with plague through the arrival from London of a box of clothing; of the villagers determination, under the persuasions of the present and former Rectors, to prevent its spread by remaining within the village and containing the desease at the certain risk of their own lives; of the human tragedies and even comedies that ensued; of the idealism and the courage required to live with that idealism.

Review by George Allan for Middlesex Chronicle (October 1988)

Youth Action Theatre accomplished one of those magic moments last week at Hampton Court Theatre in a production of Don Taylor's "The Roses of Eyam" that played for nearly three hours yet seemed over in a trice.

The play tells of the village of Eyam in Derbyshire between August 1665 and October 1666 during which time the population was virtually wiped out by plague, but through an act of heroism the village cut itself off from the outside world to prevent any spread of the pestilence.

The attempt was successful, but at a terrible price, and it is the working out of this awful destiny that is the burden of the play.

As usual with YAT, the cast was huge, but again director Eric Yardley welded them into a coherent whole, so that the little community appeared as such, despite its divisions and factions and despite the inevitable variability of experience of the players.

Among this magnificent array of talent there were some performances that stood out - most emphatically that of Martin Freeman as The Bedlam (or village idiot) who is gifted with second sight although his ramblings are incomprehensible to the villagers, or indeed to the new young Rector, so intelligent, yet so ill-equipped to deal with the human problems facing him.

Freeman was, quite simply, superb - he was touching, funny, sad and visionary, yet always within the context of the character.

As the Rector, Joe Early offered another of his quiet, yet percipient performances, which could rise to tragic heights in his confrontation with his God and extreme nobility and power when dealing with his predecessor the embittered Stanley, magnificently portrayed by David Hannigan.

There were marvellous studies of two old men by Simeone Pickford and Alan Jamieson, a fully rounded portrayal of the Rector's wife by Sarah Renton and a heartbreakingly real young women on the brink of love and life from Janice Dellor - all in a triumphant production.


Role Name


Role Name
DIRECTOREric Yardley
CO-DIRECTORJohn Buckingham
Eleanor Baker