FROM the old suitcases of his past, Tom Birkin, a World War 1 veteran, reveals his old trench coat, a leather apron and a journal with a rose preserved among its pages. The delicate paper rose brings the people from his memory into sharp focus and they begin to arrive.

It’s Yorkshire and the stationmaster at Oxgodby Station surprisingly welcomes Birkin with an almost incomprehensible accent, perceptively delivered by Nobby Dimon’s Ellerbeck. Of course, Ellerbeck knows that Birkin has been employed to uncover a mural in the tiny village church.

Barnard Castle scenic artist, Simon Pell has surpassed himself with the most glorious church which sits centre stage like a photograph from the past. The single turret magically opens up to reveal the inside complete with oak beams and scaffolding against the wall where the mural is thought to exist.

Mark Cronfield’s tentative Birkin would probably be diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress had he lived in this century. His stuttering and quietness slows the pace of the production down to village time as he meets up with fellow veteran Moon (William Vasey) who has been employed to search for a burial site outside the church walls.

An outstanding performance with tons of energy from Ashley Tucker as Kathy Ellerbeck, who adds some much needed pace; she’s also pretty darn good as the Vicar’s wife, Alice Keach and I enjoyed Thomas Frere’s grumpy vicar too.

I do feel that the set opened and closed far too many times, which slowed the pace to a standstill on occasions spoiling the rhythm of the piece, but then I freely admit that I have an aversion to the constant moving around of stage furniture.

This production will tour to the farthest reaches of the north east and Cumbria with more than 40 performances. For a full schedule please visit