Everyman in Spalding in July

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A weekly update on what’s happening at South Holland Centre in Spalding.

Everyman is one of English drama’s oldest plays.

In medieval times it was likely to be performed in public in the streets or from the back of a cart – and came with a striking message to watchers: ‘There is one true reality in life – Death! So think about how you live a good life.’

Now our sparky Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy, and the new National Theatre director Rufus Norris have adapted the play to make it relevant for today. And their visually stunning new production has attracted four star reviews across the board with Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years A Slave, Kinky Boots) coming in for particular praise as the central character.

So where Everyman in the 15th century original was a dissolute braggart, in this new version he is a modern geezer, an archetype of ‘me-culture’ materialism – and the language is down to earth and easily followed.

At the start of the play we discover Everyman arising from a drug-induced seizure after a riotous 40th birthday party to be told the bad news by Death: “It’s all over while you are still in your prime.” Ejiofor’s character then has to embark on a last, frantic search to recruit a friend, anyone, to speak in his defence and measure the value of the life he has lived.

This is a wonderfully, inventive take on an old story – making the most of brilliant staging effects.

It is screening in Spalding as part of the centre’s popular NT Live programme on Thursday, July 30 at 7pm.

If you like the sound of it tickets are available from the usual places – the centre website or box office.