I had no idea what The Downs was about so I sat back as we meet Millie Johnson, hard working farm wife and mother to five daughters, who lives in rural New Brunswick of the 1940s. Millie comes in and begins to fold her laundry and tell us one funny story after another and I thought oh, this is going to be like the hugely popular Wingfield Farms series of plays that are filled with folksy stories and some good old fashioned laughs. That’s not a bad thing. The stories and humour are eaten up by the audience and the theatre is filled with genuine laughs. But then Millie takes our hearts in her hands and leads us in another direction.
See Mille’s in her 40s and her husband, through his irresistible charm and a little dash of Aqua Velva, talks her into having another baby because after five girls he wants a boy. Well a boy he gets and we in the audience are taken completely in with this truly heartwarming tale of acceptance and generosity of heart.
Sheryl Scott’s work, both as a playwright and actor, is absolutely wonderful. Sheryl writes and acts with a confident and deft hand as she plays all the characters in the play from an old Italian neighbour, to the doctor, to the five daughters, to her husband, and finally her little boy, with skill and charm. A play like this can be too saccharine, too folksy, and could be written with a heavy hand but this actor and playwright respects her work and the audience too much and we are left at the end warmed and feeling like the world’s not such a cruel place.
We are lucky in London, though we don’t often note it, to have some really outstanding theatre artists and Sheryl Scott is one of our strongest. I hope she’ll keep doing this kind of thoughtful and generous work in our city because our city needs artists like Sheryl. In the end if you want to see a play where you’ll have some great laughs and some heartfelt tears then please, please, please go see The Downs.
Reviewing for Theatre in London