photo by Delphine Jones, Artsreach

Benjamin’s Book

Benjamin’s Book is a play with music written by Tim Laycock, inspired by the 1820 music manuscript book of North Dorset famer and Alehouse keeper Benjamin Rose [ 1796- 1877]. The play is set in the Alehouse in the tiny village of Belchalwell, seventeen years after Ben’s death. His grandson George, now mine host at the Alehouse, finds the book in a box of effects, and the story of Ben’s colourful musical and social life unfolds, underscored by many of the tunes from the book, and also including a feast of country tales and local anecdotes. Colin Thompson provides most of the music on the violin, and plays the Ghost of Benjamin Rose.

The play is performed in period costume, and is in two parts, each about 45 minutes long. A 15 minute interval is required



BENJAMIN’S BOOK at Cerne Abbas Village Hall.

The chance acquisition of a hand written book of country dance tunes compiled by a Dorset innkeeper in the 1820’s has led to this inspired musical treat written by Tim Laycock with Colin Thompson accompanying the songs. The life and times of Blackmore vale farmer and alehouse keeper Benjamin Rose comes alive in the expert hands of Tim, a skilled Dorset musician and storyteller as he augments the tunes with stories about events of the times along with anecdotes about the locals in and around the tiny village of Belchalwell near Sturminster Newton.

The gentle humour of the country folk is beautifully presented by Tim as the audience rocks with laughter of stories about cows, horses and Dorset apple Cake in a delightful show that includes not only infectious dance melodies but a hilariously unsophisticated puppet show and even an opportunity for the audience to sample some of the dances after the performance.
This Artsreach promotion provides ample evidence that the local history of ordinary village people is a fascinating study when it is in the hands of gifted performers with an eye for a good story and a talent for making great music.

Marion Cox, Dorset Echo. Feb 6th 2011