I had the pleasure of watching Red Rose Chain's 'Happy Families' in Ipswich this afternoon, the performance was put on by youth theatre group 'The Chainers' who are a theatre company for ages 15 plus. They helped choreograph, write and perform ' Happy Families' for audiences on Saturday the 29th of April and Sunday the 30th of April.

The play follows a family meeting together at Emma Hawes' funeral. It is based on a true story about a woman who met her unfortunate death in Ipswich in Victorian Era Britain. The play follows many characters involved in Emma's life such as: Herbert - her drunk lover- Mary - her daughter- and William Hawes - her brother. The play consists of different characters looking back on her life through flashbacks in the setting of a funeral and keeps the audience entertained thoroughly throughout. 

Before the play, the actors greeted us in the foyer and kept us on our toes as they peppered us  questions on 'how we knew the deceased' and why we had arrived to the funeral in 'such disrespectful clothing' and as we sat down the cast sat with us - further immersing us in the experience of the funeral. The play introduced us early on to the family and loved ones of Emma and we found ourselves delved into the memories of her family and as the plot thickened we learnt more and more about Emma's life and death. The play was a perfect mix of humour for all ages and more serious topics such as workhouses and the grueling life for poor women in this period. The 'Workhouse Scene' certainly gave the audience a fright in which the cast appeared in all grey masks and created a physical theatre piece representing the workhouses. The music gave the show a fresh feeling and characters such as Jabez gave the audience a comic backbone which helped soften the blow of Emma's demise.

Overall, I totally enjoyed it with one other member of the audience with me saying 'It was an engaging historical performance with a brilliant cast  and a remarkable story'. I think everyone performed brilliantly and the show ran smoothly throughout. I was even more amazed when I found out the cast choreographed wrote and directed the show with ( I have been advised) special thanks from actors, directors and costue designers: Ellie Smith, Rei Mordue and Harrison Drane. Also, the show could never have been made without: Mandy Rawlins - Historical advisor, Joanna Carrick - Creative support, Katy Frost - creative support and Tech, David Newborn - Creative support and Lighting Design. The Red Rose Chain put on shows seasonally and I'm very excited to see what happens next.