Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

End of Road for Strolling Players

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

End of Road for Strolling Players

Article excerpt

After 82 miles of walking Peter Mortimer and his band of players have walked the Roman Wall, performing his play, Off the Wall, and are still packing them in on Tyneside.

Two live theatre performances are never the same. The unpredictability was exhilarating but also could drive you mad.

Thus at Throckley Community Hall, 20 minutes before opening, all our lighting system blew.

Stage manager Craig, who would still remain unflappable if being eaten by Godzilla, patched it up, but said, "keep your fingers crossed."

Even nearer 7.30pm, Dylan's g-string on his guitar broke. Half an hour into the play, an elderly man went and sat by the back wall, fell asleep and began snoring.

I'd been worried about the Throckley audience ( our first urban location.

But 80 people turned up, tea was 20p a cup, and no sooner had the cast taken their second bow, then a lady jumped on stage and shouted 146! This was the winning raffle number.

Northumbrian piper Sue Dunn started us off, and the backdrop workshops were again led by Richard Jardine, and though the cast were tired after 73 miles walking, it didn't show.

Saturday ( and our last day's journey, an 11 mile trudge across virtually the breadth of Tyneside. We would now follow the river as far as Wallsend, and Segedunum. The end of the wall, the end of our odyssey.

Our overnight stop, The Keelman in Newburn, a restored old stone pumping station, and also home of the splendid independent brewery Big Lamp, was a real restorative, lush with trees and greenery alongside the river, big comfortable rooms, and a small antidote to the onset of concrete and tarmac that awaited us.

Our last day dawned, clear and bright. Some foot problems still for Alex and Dylan, but who would have given up now? No-one. We walked in via Scotswood, Elswick, a riverside once scarred with belching factories, but now with spacious walks, sculptures, and only the remains of Dunston staithes, the low tide mud banks, and the likes of Vickers to connect with a previous age. …

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