Shows B

BENDIGO BOSWELL Music by Peter Allwood, lyrics by Jeremy James Taylor, book by David Scott and Jeremy James Taylor SYNOPSIS On a farm in the Kentish countryside, the clash of cultures between Kentish locals, London cockneys, and a Romany gypsy tribe spells tragedy for an unlikely romance between a gypsy boy and a beautiful cockney girl. A heart-rendering examination of the dangers of prejudice, with an ending and message as powerful and poignant as West Side Story. A young cockney girl, Anna Harris, visits a fortune-teller and is told that her future holds great mystery. A vivid adventure then unfolds of a gipsy family (the Boswells) who travel to Kent for the hop-picking season. There they meet with prejudice, particularly from the locals. Bendigo’s friendship with Anna, who is there with her family for the same reason, causes friction between the two families. The Boswells’ many practical skills eventually win the respect of their neighbours when they cure an adder bite inflicted upon Anna’s sister. This does not prepare us, however, for the unexpected denouement ... Would suit secondary schools. STORY ACT ONE The Ballad Singer begins by singing a short ballad about Bendigo Boswell saying that his honour is what brought him down. Two cousins, Anna and Polly, are at a fair. Anna sees the tent of a Gypsy Fortune Teller. She goes and leaves Polly outside waiting. Inside, the gypsy woman says she has no ordinary palm. She sees a journey in her future and she also sees fine silver, a dress red as blood, and a fine young man. Anna gets nervous and goes back out to Polly. She tells her that the Gypsy said she would be married next week in Kent. The girls laugh it off and go home. The Ballad Singer appears again and introduces the fields of Kent, which is a summer getaway for all types. The place begins to bustle with Gypsies and Londoners and families old and young. Most notably there are the Boswell family and the Harris family. Everyone goes off on their own except for Bendigo, who is carving a headboard. Black Amos appears and plays the fiddle for the Ballad Singer, who speaks more of Bendigo; he is a Gypsy, born to a Romany family. His mother is now dead but the Singer says her spirit was still alive and would bring him down. The Boswell children all come in playing and roughhousing. They begin to bully Bendigo. Something is wrong with him. As their father comes in he calls them off. It has only been a week since their mother died and that is surely what is bothering Bendigo. He insists her spirit is restless and he hears her crying. He claims that they didn’t take proper care of her when she died, then rushed off to Kent for work. George Fowler, who is overseeing things at the campsite, and the Reverend come around to check on things. They are blessing everything so as not to take any chances. Nelson, Bendigo’s father asks them not to bless his caravan. He pulls Fowler aside to explain. Meanwhile, the local children are taunting the Boswell children and a big fight erupts. The farmer sets out a warning that there will be no fighting and no stealing; there apparently was a lot of both last year. Just then the Harris family comes through with a wagon full of luggage. They get their housing assignment and head off looking for Anna who has been trailing behind. Soon after the leave, Anna comes in looking for them. She begins to inspect the Boswell’s trailer, and sees Bendigo there. She asks if he has seen her family and at first he is silent, he just stares at her, then he says he has not seen anyone. There is an awkward exchange between them and Anna, feeling nervous, begins to leave. Bendigo calls out her name. She is frightened and cannot figure out how he knew her name. He says that he knows everything, and she responds by asking him to read her palm. He begins and simply says that her hair is jet black like his mother who just passed away a week ago. Anna panics and runs off. Bendigo just stands there and wonders to himself. Everything about this girl was exactly like his mother. He is about to go in when Amos calls him. Amos has heard the entire conversa-